MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
Jenn Todd-Whitson - WDW, USF, SeaWorld (5-14 Oct, 1996) - Offsite / Beach Club Resort
- Time of Year: Fall
- Travel Method: Plane
- Resort: Beach Club Resort, Offsite (Delta Orlando)
- Accommodations: Standard Room
- Ages Represented in Group: Elementary, Adult
- WDW Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
- Comments: Jenn and her two children, Brendan age 4 1/2, and Erin age 7, stayed at the Beach Club Resort during their visit to WDW in October. Before they arrived at WDW, they made a side trip to Universal Studios while staying at a non-Disney hotel. This is a well-written, entertaining, and informative report.
The Whitson family, Jennifer age 33 (a single Mom and sometimes half tapped), Brendan age 4 , and Erin age 7. My real life profession is Recreation Director for our local Parks Department. My job is to plan and implement recreation programs for the City. I used this expertise to plan our trip of a lifetime, and for the most part it paid off. Our trip had been planned for over a year. I took lots of tips from RADP, thanks to all of you!! Anything I found worthwhile I printed out and indexed in a loose leaf folder. I was religious about trip reports hotel and restaurant reviews, I read it all!!
This was Erin and Brendan's first trip to WDW although they did have a brief visit to DL in 1994. I had been to WDW New Year's eve of 1985-1986 (I told you I was half tapped) with my now very much ex-husband. So I had the privilege of attending (naively I must add) both the 15th year and 25th year anniversaries. Our visit began on October 5th and ended on October 14th. We stayed in two different hotels the Delta Orlando and the Beach Club. I can honestly say that we did it all. While we were staying at the Beach Club we were on the Grand Plan so everything including the kitchen sink was included. Expensive yes, but we got what we paid for and then some!! I cannot say enough about our Grand Plan itinerest Linde Dodge she went so above and beyond for us during our stay, more about her later in the report. Our stay at the Delta Orlando was exclusively set aside for the touring of Universal Studios (USF) and Sea World (SW). In retrospect I wish I had not planned so much time at these parks but we did experience enough to satiate all of our appetites. In other words, next time we go to WDW, USF and SW will not be the draw we thought they would be. Well here goes, hold on to your Mickey ears a very very lengthy report is about to follow!!
Saturday, October 5, 1996
Woke up at 4:00 AM and quickly dressed & packed the final items. It was so hard to sleep during the night, tossing and turning dreaming "Disney Dreams"!
I finally got to say the words "It's time to go to Disney World!" to my slumbering children. I was really pleasantly surprised to realize that they actually slept through the night! Brendan quickly opened his eyes and gave me the most angelic of smiles. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes he stated, "I have been ready for hours, Mommy!". We then proceeded into Erin's room and announced in unison, "It's time for Disney!" Again I was met with a wonderful smile. Erin stated that she had three Disney dreams during the night. Both children promptly got dressed and we were ready to go by 4:45 AM. My boyfriend Neal drove us to Logan Airport. He would have loved to have come with us, but since he is a very successful sports artist he is swamped with business. So alas we say our good- byes and embarked on our 9 day sojourn. As soon as we went through the security check point I realized Neal had forgotten to take our jackets. It was hovering in the low 30's in Boston and we knew that jackets would not be required at our destination. Oh well, good thing I packed an empty suitcase.
It was now around 6:00 AM when my son decided to get "in a mood". He became extremely argumentative with his sister and was unwilling to discuss anything without MAJOR ATTITUDE!! If I didn't talk him through it we would really start this long awaited vacation on the wrong foot. Let me tell you this takes lots of patience, Brendan has been going through a difficult stage and at times I don't know if I can bring him down to earth. Well, perseverance paid off, after a lot of hugs and eye contact Brendan returned, Whew!!
7:20 our plane took off on time. We flew US Air. They served a nice snack on board yogurt, granola bar, and muffin, a nice breakfast actually. The flight went well with little turbulence. The descent was not quite as comfortable even with all the gum and juice boxes, the kids (and all the other young 'uns on the plane) were still screaming about their ears :-( . Well, we finally touched down at 10:10 AM and did the mad dash for our luggage. Boy was it hot!! I really wished I had changed into shorts on the plane. It was also pouring rain which just made for more fun. We picked up our luggage at the claim area. I had a carry on, my camera bag and a rolling case with an empty gym bag inside. The kids each had a back pack with Erin also pulling a small carry on. We were definitely a site! We found the bus for Alamo right outside the claim area and immediately boarded. It took us approximately 15 minutes to get to the agency and there we encountered our first waiting line! I had Erin sit with the bags while Brendan and I did a quick run to the bathroom and then stood in line. We waited approximately 20 more minutes before we were beckoned. The car was already paid for $175 unlimited mileage plus I got a free upgrade with my Entertainment book. I waived the insurance that they are so good at trying to pressure you into (make sure you bring your insurance papers to facilitate this). I still had to pay local and state tax and I opted for the full tank of gas even though I knew I wouldn't need it all. I just felt that peace of mind was better than playing guessing games on how much gas I might need. I paid an additional amount of $63.00 for these "extras". 11:45 AM I got the car and loaded the bags in the pouring rain. We were finally on our way!
We easily found the Delta Orlando it is located right across the street from USF. Not all that impressed with the outside we checked into our room. Rooms are usually $118/ night but with the Entertainment card I got the room at half price $59. Well I can honestly say we got what we paid for. The hotel is currently under rehab, and our room had many problems (dripping tub, balcony under construction, loose tiles under the carpet, etc.) but oh well, this isn't Disney! This hotel does have the potential of being a fine family hotel. They have three pools, game room, and a Wally Gator club with ongoing baby-sitting and kids clubs. We unloaded our bags, changed our clothes and headed over to USF. I had purchased our tickets in advance $250 for 5 days unlimited admission at SW, USF, and Wet and Wild for the three of us. This option was cheaper than purchasing two days of admission plus it gave us greater flexibility.
We entered the gates of USF at 1:00 PM. Parking was $5 and even though the hotel had a complimentary shuttle I opted to take my car for more flexibility. Once in the gates we headed straight for Hanna Barbera. There was about a 10 minute wait, apparently a passenger in the prior group had a little stomach discomfort and the cleanup patrol had to be called in. This ride is based on the HB cartoons featuring Yogi Bear, Boo Bear, Elroy Jetson, and Dastardly Dan with a special Flintstones undertone. It was a great ride and a perfect introduction to simulation rides for all of us. Both kids gave it a big thumbs up. In this ride there is truly no bad seat. Once we exited my son wanted to go on ET. The wait was 30 mins. But he insisted that he wanted to do it regardless of the wait. When we went to US Hollywood this was a very special ride for him so I willingly waited it out. This time ET said very clear good-byes to all three of us, this part malfunctioned at USH. It was about 3:00 PM and we still had not had lunch. We grabbed a bite over at Animal Crackers. Brendan had chicken fingers, Erin and I had hot-dogs, all were served with too many, but very good french fries. Each of us also had a small soda and the final bill came to $20.77! Welcome to Orlando! As we were eating we had the pleasure of witnessing character appearances by Scooby Doo, Fred Flintstone, and Barney Rubble. Quick Hellos and pictures we were off to Back To The Future (BTTF) with only a 10 minute wait! I was not sure how my kids would handle this ride, I was told that it can become very intense. I instructed them to close their eyes if they felt that any part was too scary. Brendan, my usual daredevil spent more time with his eyes closed than Erin. The ride is in an 8 passenger delorean with incredible special effects. No matter where you sit you will have a great view. Afterwards, however, they both agreed that this was a definite "do again". They realized that they can control the intensity of the ride by closing their eyes at any time. From there we proceeded over to King Kong. There was no waiting time listed so we went ahead inside. The line was so deceiving that we didn't realize the wait until we were of the way in. 30 minutes later we boarded. This ride was a little too much for Brendan, but Erin loved it! Our trolley driver was definitely into it which made for a more realistic show. As we exited we noticed that Alfred Hitchcock was just beginning so we headed over to that show. Most of the show went over the kids heads but they did like the birds scene, even if it was a bit creepy. I think you have to have remembered AH movies in order to enjoy this. In other words the kids were not as creeped out because they didn't understand the context of the shorts. After this show we headed over to Beetle Juice Graveyard Revue (BJGR). This is one of the kids favorites that they remember from USH. It is very well done, not scary at all and the voices on some of the characters were terrific. I do have to admit that BJ seemed to get a little bit too excited when "Elvira" did her rendition of Natural Woman. Afterwards the characters posed for pictures and signed autographs. Now the park was about to close (6 PM every night) so we headed over to earthquake for the last show of the day. Great effects but a lot of jarring. Make sure you stay on the entry side of the tram or you will get very wet!
Well we were all very tired by this time. Logical sense would have dictated McD's and bed but nope I had too much of a craving for Disney so we decided to cheat a little. We headed over to the Rainforest Caf. We headed over to the DVM and were told the wait was 2 hours! Well some of you may remember that I had gotten an immediate seating coupon in the mail prior to our trip. So I presented the coupon to the hostess and we were seated immediately!! We sat next to the fish tanks and learned all about Yellow Tangs. My kids got a kick out of watching them swim through the intricate tanks. Our waitress was very nice although she looked over tired. She took our order and recommended that we tour the restaurant and gift shop while we wait. The restaurant itself is full of atmosphere. It has AA elephants, gorillas, monkeys and birds. About every 15 mins the "skies" cloud up and a thunderstorm goes off. The AA animals are constantly chattering throughout. The windows to the left of the restaurant have rain falling in the windows making for a very nice effect. This restaurant is not for a quiet romantic evening, but it is great for the kids, very entertaining! I ordered the Jamaican Me Crazy pork chops with spicy red beans and rice accompanied by apple cranberry chutney. The pork chops were somewhat dry but the bean & rice mix was fabulous. I wish I had just ordered this as an entree. I barely finished half the meal. Erin ordered the kids grilled cheese which comes on thick sour dough bread and two kinds of cheese. Brendan asked for the kids spaghetti with marinara sauce. All drinks were refillable and kept coming even when we didn't ask. The kids barely ate their dinners, I think the day had finally caught up with them, although they were very well behaved. We paid $38 for the meal including tip and headed back to our room. At this point it was 8:30 PM and we were very tired. Lights out by 9:00 PM we need a good night's rest for tomorrow!
Sunday, October 6, 1996
We woke up at 6:30 AM showered dressed and went down stairs to get info on USF and SW at the Delta Orlando guest relations desk. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that our hotel had early entry privileges on Sundays and Tuesdays and that USF would be open up one hour earlier than the stated 9:00 AM listed opening. We decided to forgo breakfast at the hotel (because of the construction their wasn't much offered anyway) and headed over to USF. They opened the gates at 7:45 AM. We had to present an early entry card that we got in the hotel but once we were in there were only about 50 people in the park total! We immediately went over to ride ET again. We were the first ones on the ride and got a front seat. Once we exited we headed over for our other favorite BTTF and again got on immediately. This time my kids kept their eyes open and thoroughly enjoyed the ride! We then went to have breakfast at the International Food Bazaar. The kids had cold cereal, juice and fruit salad. I had coffee and a croissant egg sandwich. The hot food was barely digestible. It reminded me of my old high school cafeteria. The coffee was barely potent, more like colored hot water, yech!! $16.77 for this junk and a pit in my stomach, we headed over to Jaws. This ride was OK but I think the hype was bigger than the attraction. The kids were more nervous about the inevitable than the appearance of Jaws. They both said afterwards that the ride was no big deal. Be prepared to get wet on this ride! Since it was raining anyway we had our rain ponchos already on. After Jaws it really started to get muggy so we headed over to get something to drink. I desperately wanted something with decent caffeine so we went to Chez Alcatrez where I got a frozen cappuccino and the kids got juice and pastry. The bill came to $11.30 and fared much better than our morning disaster for breakfast. After our mid morning snack we headed over to see HB again with no wait and were greeted by Fred Flintstone and George Jetson after we exited the ride. I have to say these characters were great. They really got a kick out of Brendan and were spending all their time engaging in the computer games and interactives in the HB room. Brendan felt sooo important! Once we exited the HB room we noticed that There was a very still Frankenstein stationed outside the Universal Studios Store. I really wasn't sure if he was a statue or a character so I found myself staring with the kids tentatively. Well as we were doing this a man walked over and also with interest decided to see for himself. He started talking to the "statue" and laughing because there was no response. He then started feeling a little silly because he realized that it indeed must be a fixture. Well he started to walk away when that thing lunged out at him. Boy did we all jump!! It was hysterical! The man seemed embarrassed but more amused at his naivet. Another character around the corner was Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. This character was extremely well done. He was walking through the crowd as if everyone was scaring him. My son was trying so desperately to catch up but it seemed Harry just wasn't interested. It was then when Brendan stopped in his tracks and shouted at the top of his lungs, "Harry, I just want to give you a hug." Well, Harry stopped, went over to Brendan picked him up and hugged him for life. It was definitely an unforgettable moment, darn, why didn't I have the video camera going?!! Harry then replaced Brendan and went on with his act of being scared of the crowd. I have to say that Brendan will never forget that magical hug :0) Last stop at USF was the Nickelodeon tour. This attraction didn't open until 10:00 AM so we had about a 10 minute wait. The tour itself was mediocre. Currently Nickelodeon is not taping any shows so we were disappointed to find only one set to view. At the end of the tour they do a mock taping of What Would You Do with the parents against the kids. This was definitely great for most of the families, but my kids were just not into it. Brendan was too young and Erin was just too shy. We did get a kick out of the "slime guy" though and the embarrassment of some of the adult participants. It was now about 10:45 AM and we decided to leave USF and head over to Sea World (SW). Parking at Sea World was free since we had already paid a $5 fee at USF. They just exchanged the dashboard ticket for a SW one. Weather again was rainy so the crowds were scattered. We viewed the flamingos then went over and fed the sting rays. My kids really loved doing this although at first they were petrified of being "stung" by the ray. Once they got comfortable with it though it was hard to move on. I have to note, however, that Brendan had a hard time reaching the rays. I wanted to take some video footage but found that in order to ensure his safety I had to hold on to him so he could feed the rays without falling in the drink. We then walked over to the dolphin pool. This part of the park was the most crowded. The dolphins were extremely outgoing and at times they seemed to want to come right out of the pool! My kids were both thrilled to be able to "pet" the dolphins as well as feed them. I, however, have mixed emotions about these kind of attractions. Although I think it is important to educate our children about the wonders of the sea world, I feel torn about manipulating animals in this way. Oh well, I guess if I really felt strongly about it I shouldn't pay to see them, hmmm. Anyway, from here we went downstairs to view the dolphins underground. This part is marvelous. They pipe in some beautiful orchestration while you view the underwater antics of the dolphins. Very, very soothing. Anyway, we then headed over to the manatees. Here we got to view them both above and below the water. I was however disappointed in the movie preview. I felt that it could have contained more substance regarding the plight of the manatees and their lives. Once we exited I realized that Shamu's show was about to begin so we had to race over to Shamu Stadium to catch the beginning of the show. I always liked the antics they do prior to the show's beginning. They will ask a question on the giant video screen and then camera in on someone in the audience. That person has to gesture the answer on the screen. It is quite a hoot! Most people don't realize that they are on camera until everyone in their section nudges them awake! We decided to sit in the wet seats since we already had our rain ponchos on. (Be advised you do get really wet if you are not prepared!) Shamu was great as usual, but again I started feeling that inner conflict about captured sea life. I wondered if the bent dorsal fin of the larger orca was similar to the plight of Willy in the movie Free Willy. So much for putting a damper on the visit. The last attraction we went on was the Wild Arctic. This is a simulator ride where you appear to be on a helicopter journey through the Arctic where something goes wrong. It was pretty good and both kids loved it. At the end of the ride you disembark as if you are really in the Arctic. Here you get to view Beluga whales (which are a lot bigger than the Baby Beluga I envisioned from Raffi's story book), very bored polar bears, and walruses. There is also a small cave climbing area for kids which Brendan seemed to really enjoy.
By now the it was about 2:00 PM and the kids were getting a bit cranky. We headed back to the Delta Orlando and took a little nap. I had Erin and Brendan take quick showers before dinner and we headed back to the DVM to visit Planet Hollywood. It was about 4:45 PM and we were seated immediately! What a place, it is loud but it is so entertaining. I was bumming because I forgot my camera bag at the hotel. Our waitress was great she gave both the kids a pen so they could draw on their placemats while waiting for their dinner. I ordered nachos as an appetizer, cheese pizza to be split between the kids and pasta pompadour for myself. Each of us had soda to drink. The nachos were unbelievable. The best I had ever had, with true guacamole sauce and red onions, yum!! The kids loved the pizza, it was a true cheese pizza with no red sauce (Erin was psyched) it also had a very thin flaky crust. Kids gave it two thumbs up!! My pasta creation was good, nothing fancy but still very tasty. The bill for this came to $36.54 including tip. I have to say, however, that the service at this restaurant was outstanding! I have read from RADP in the past of inattentive service, but I can honestly say this was not the case. Our waitress constantly checked our drinks and apologized about our entrees being late (even though I thought they were very efficient). The manager also came over to us to see how we liked our meal and atmosphere! Great restaurant and a great time! After PH we headed over to the new World of Disney Store. I have to admit that even though this store has it all, I miss the intimacy of the character shop. I don't always feel that bigger is better. I was constantly worried about my kids staying with me, it was very crowded. I would much rather have a number of small specialty stores. I hope that this is not going to be the new trend of the DVM expansion. I was also disappointed that there was little selection among the kids items. They had no children sizes of the 25th anniversary attire and only a couple of WDW clothing items that would fit them. I do have to say, however, that the Magic Kingdom card certainly saved me money. If nothing else, it's like getting your items tax free. Remember, that unless it's specific to the theme park the DVM will carry it and will also allow the 10% MKC discount!
I have to admit by now that I was really craving my stay at WDW. I still had one more stay at the DO and I was already burnt out. We had pretty much exhausted USF, and SW is just that, Sea World. I decided to cheat a little bit more and experience the Beach Club. I heard so much about Beaches and Cream that I figured we could have our dessert there. When we drove up to the security check point the guard was a little tougher than what I expected. I just told him that we had dinner reservations, he seemed hesitant to let us through but finally obliged. Well here we were, how magnificent! We walked through the lobby and all around storm-along bay, it is huge! We walked up the international gateway to get a sense of the proximity of EPCOT, and I looked at an ideal room in the corner of the BC near the smaller pool, secretly hoping that this could be our room on Tuesday. We then went over to Beaches and Cream and ordered ice cream. The waitress was so bubbly and very attentive to the kids. She was from Japan and offered Brendan a little origami man and Erin an origami woman both made from napkins. Disney, what a place, oh how I wished we were already staying here! Well we finished the ice creams and headed back to the DO. Unfortunately I got on Rte 4 going West and could not turn around for 9 miles! Brendan fell asleep in the car and when we finally got back on track we reached the hotel by 9 PM. I told the kids that if it wasn't raining tomorrow we would visit Typhoon Lagoon in the morning. Lights out at 9:30 PM.
Monday, October 7, 1996
Woke up at 6:30 AM praying and hoping for a sunny day. Brendan opened up the curtain to find torrential rain showers. So much for Typhoon Lagoon. We decided to give it a whirl anyway. We figured if they did open TL there would be no crowds so off we went to DVM for breakfast. We had breakfast at Goofy's Grill. Typical take out breakfast. Erin and I had french toast sticks and Brendan had cold cereal with milk, both kids also had OJ and I had a coffee. Breakfast came to $16.45 and even though the counter people were very cheerful the food quality wasn't any better than Burger King. The kids did, however, enjoy watching Max on the TV they provided. After we ate breakfast we went back over to the World of Disney to pick up some autograph books and hats for Brendan and me (I was getting really tired of having wet hair from all of this rain). We toured the DVM for a while and then headed over to TL. It had stopped raining although it was still overcast. Unfortunately TL was closed for the day due to the inclement weather, major bummer. We were all very disappointed. I then decided to check out more of Disney. We took a ride over to the Wilderness Lodge and decided to go in and check it out. I have to note that no one even questioned us at the security gate!
The inside of the Wilderness Lodge is spectacular! Pictures do not do this place any justice. The lobby is breathtaking with totem poles on both sides going from floor to ceiling! The stream starts within the lobby itself and follows the path along the way to a very small pool. I can understand the complaints about this pool. It is very small, I can see it being overly crowded on hot days. Erin was especially taken with the animal footprints that were in the sidewalk. We tried to follow the raccoon prints (they must have been Meeko's) as well as the deer's. Very nice touch! We went back into the lobby just in time to see Meeko on his way through. The kids gave him quick hugs as he seemed to be late for a certain destination, probably Artist Point. It was now about 10:00 AM and we got in the car to do a little more touring. We went over to the Polynesian and walked around the premises there. I was not all that thrilled with this resort. I can see that this hotel is beginning to show its age. I understand it is going to be under rehab, I would hope that they would get rid of the false balconies and replace them with actual ones. The proximity to all the transportation was definitely a nice amenity, many options. I was also impressed with the inside foliage and waterfall. Additionally there was a giant birthday cake for WDW's 25th anniversary. It was huge and very well done! Well at this point we were all getting hungry so we decided to head back over to WL for lunch. I had heard so many wonderful things through RADP regarding Whispering Canyon (WC) that I really wanted to check it out. My kids were met at the hostess desk by a very enthusiastic hostess. She certainly gave us the sense that no outside rules apply here and to be prepared for the unexpected. Our waiter's (ahem, cowboy's) name was Izzy and was he great. He was our favorite Disney waiter during our entire stay. He played his part to the hilt and my son was truly taken by him. While we were sitting we all of a sudden heard the crack of a gun. Izzy and the hostess yelled, "get up all ye little varmints wese a gonna have a horse race!" The kids grabbed a pogo horse from the barrel and Izzy led the kids all around the restaurant. Erin won the race and was so thrilled. Brendan didn't want to let his horse go! They each got a certificate for a free ice cream at the WL for participating. I won't spoil the rest for anyone but whatever you do don't ask for a fork or mayonnaise! We ordered the family style meal. They have revised their menu so you now have the option of either the family style meal or individual sandwiches or salads. Our order consisted of ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, bbq chicken, and fried fish nuggets. The kids had birch beer that was served in mason jars. Brendan loved the straw that Izzy made for him. He connected four straws together so Brendan would have to drink his soda standing up. It wasn't exactly a restaurant to wind the kids down in, but we sure had fun. We all had dessert. The kids had worms and dirt (chocolate pudding, crushed oreos and gummy worms) that was too big even for them to share. I had strawberry cheesecake. The bill came to $33.00 with tip and well worth it! I strongly recommend that anyone who goes there ask for Izzy, he goes far beyond the call of duty.
We returned to the DO for a brief nap around 12:00. The kids woke up at 1:30 PM and we decided to spend the remainder of the afternoon at SW. Paid the $5 to park and got a spot right in front of the main gate, yeah! We viewed the tropical reef, the manatees again, and the penguins. The penguin exhibit is nicely displayed. You stand on a conveyor belt while you view them. Nice change for aching feet. They also have specific viewing times for their feeding where you can ask questions. From there we saw terrors of the deep. This also was done on conveyor belt style. The kids were disappointed that the sharks were so small. I guess after Jaws it's hard to keep up. Outside the exhibit they have baby shark pools. These creatures actually seemed cute. Brendan wanted to take one home (awww!). We got to see the Anhueser Busch (AB) Clydesdales, absolutely magnificent horses, and a new colt! It was about 4:30 PM and we had an early dinner at the AB Hospitality Area. The kids had a ham sandwich kids meal which included chips and pickle, and I had a German sausage with sauerkraut. The latter was actually pretty good and surprisingly the kids ate their sandwiches. We had bottled water to drink and the tab for dinner came to $15.35. This area also has beer taste samplings but I knew that my adrenaline would indeed falter if I did any partaking. After dinner we saw the Clyde and Seymour show which is always a hoot and then another ride on the Arctic. Once we exited the Arctic we ran over to see Shamu's night magic, but unfortunately Brendan had to use the bathroom so we didn't get to see all of it. After the show we went over to the Bayside Stadium to view the Mermaids, Myths and Monsters fireworks and laser show. This show was pretty good and the kids enjoyed it. But as we would soon find out it just doesn't beat Illuminations. We made the big mistake of sitting on the right side of the stadium. Once the show was over we were at the end of the stampede to the exit so it took us forever to get out even though the crowd moved swiftly. Thank goodness our car was close by! Again I got on Rte 4 going West, geesh! I'll be glad when I don't have to do this commute!! 9:00 lights out, tomorrow we go to Disney!
Thursday, October 8, 1996
We woke up this morning at 6:30 AM and we did express check out of our room. We were at the gates to USF for 7:30 AM for the character breakfast that I had made reservations for. I really wanted to blow this off, I was severely burnt out on USF by now but the kids had been looking forward to it. The breakfast allowed early entry into the park and a no wait on ET up until 10:00 AM. It was then that I realized that the breakfast was at, ugh, the International Food Bazaar. Breakfast was $30.99 for the three of us and was done buffet style, the food again was awful but the kids stuck mainly to the fruit and cold cereal. The characters at the breakfast were Woody Woodpecker, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear, Boo Bear, and Scooby Doo. Brendan finally decided to use the kids camera that I gave him and he was a hit. The characters loved posing for him and I think it just added to the charm. It was definitely a very overpriced and bad breakfast, but the characters were worth it to the kids. We finished with the breakfast at 9:00 AM, I had received a Bullwinkle stamp on my hand for our "cutting" pass into ET, but we decided to ride BTTF one last time before the regular crowd hit. Again we got on without a wait. We then went over to ET and got the front basket again. This time the computer malfunctioned and ET didn't say goodbye, kids were disappointed. On the way out of USF the kids asked if they could ride HB one last time. As we were about to leave Brendan caught sight of Hercules and Xena so after a quick pose we left USF and headed to the greatest place on earth, Walt Disney World! We arrived at the Beach Club (BC) at 10:30 AM. It was precisely at this time that the sun came out, first time since our vacation began! Could this be Disney magic?! I was so thrilled to say "We are checking in." to the security guard. She was so pleasant, directing us to where we needed to go. We were greeted by the valet as she opened all our doors. Brendan asked her if he could take her picture which of course she graciously allowed, saying how adorable he was. Brendan had certainly found an audience and he was eating it up. Inside we went to the front desk to see if our room was ready. Since we were on the Grand Plan, we had our own itinerest, Lynde Dodge, who was called to meet us. She presented us with our WDW info packet and gave us a tour of the hotel as well as the Yacht Club and the concierge floor on the fifth floor. Our plan included our water view room, theme park admission, plus all our meals, snacks, recreation, baby-sitting, room service dining, and lots more. For our 6 night stay the bill was $4399.00. Steep price, maybe, but I wanted to splurge and we got more than our money's worth! At the end of the trip report I am going to list all of our expenses and show how we fared. Our room was #503 and I had guessed correctly it was one of the last ones before the International Gateway (IG), so convenient. Lynde had tried to get us a free upgrade to room #501 which was actually a 1 bdrm suite but it was booked for a portion of our stay and I did not feel like moving once we were settled. Our room was also very accessible to the smaller and much quieter pool as well as the laundry room. The downside was that it was a long trek to get to the lobby area. I still feel that any of the rooms in that area are a good bet. Rooms #1555 - #1541 and #1529 - #1509 (all odd numbers) overlook the small pool so you can sit on your own patio and drink your coffee while the kids play in the pool. They are also the easiest access to EPCOT. Most of these are smoking rooms including ours. Since I am a non-smoker I was adamant about the fact that I will not stay in a room that smelled smoky, but was pleasantly surprised to find the room very fresh smelling. Room 1541 is a non-smoking room and would be my preference next time I go. It is in the top corner of the pool area, and more accessible to the lobby, as well as good proximity to EPCOT. I only used the concierge lounge twice during our stay, mainly because it was just too much of a hike to get over to it. I also don't feel all that comfortable with glitzy type of people, god forbid my kids might spill something! The concierge help desk was also available to me but since Lynde was so helpful I never had the need!
Since our room was not ready we decided to go ahead to MGM studios. We took the Friendship cruise to the studios, very relaxing, but very slow! Brendan had been waiting for Tower of Terror since we landed in Orlando so we decided to go on that first. Erin was absolutely terrified. I told her that she would stand in line with us then do a "kid swap" at the end. She was absolutely convinced that I was going to force her on the ride! Geesh, what kind of Mother do these kids think I am? Anyway, I was not really sure how this was going to work. I am a single parent with two children that have very different tastes. I figured I could always ask if she could stand with the attendant while I rode with Brendan. I did not feel comfortable letting her wait outside by herself. To our pleasant surprise the attendant not only said she could stay with him, he walked her through the "safe" elevator and stood with her until we finished the ride! The ride itself was TERRIFYING!! I certainly could appreciate Erin's concerns about doing it. Brendan on the other hand loved it and was outwardly upset when I told him that I would not do it again. As I said, "Been there, done that, and Brendan got the T-shirt." Don't get me wrong, the ride is very well done. I loved the Twilight Zone growing up so I could certainly appreciate the special effects. afterwards. I was just too pre-occupied with the drops themselves to really enjoy the attraction itself. Let me tell you the drops are legitimate! My heart was all the way up to the ceiling, and my head was just praying for the drop to end, which seemed an eternity. Who knows I will probably try it my next trip to WDW but once was enough this time aroundSorry Brendan! After TZTT we decided to forgo the Toy Story Parade and eat lunch. We checked to see about getting a seat at the Prime Time Caf. We had only a five minute wait before we got seated. Our waiter was "Uncle John" (I was very disappointed to not have a Mom) and he was OK, he just seemed a little bit too lethargic. The kids enjoyed the coloring paper and the food was actually not bad. I was prepared for awful so I was pleasantly surprised to have a good meal. I had meatloaf which was very good but the veggies, snap peas, were very soggy. Brendan had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich minus the peanut butter (his absolute favorite) and Erin had a hot-dog. "Uncle John" gave the kids ice cream in paper cups so we could take it with us. With drinks and tip the total came to $31.39. From the PTC we headed over to see Star Tours. The wait was about 15 mins and well worth it. Although both the kids and I still feel that BTTF is the best simulation ride ever, ST was certainly exciting. The kids both love R2D2 and C3PO and the misdirected android flying the ship was a hoot! We then went over to Muppets 3D. Another great Disney experience, very well done.
It was now 3:00 PM and I wanted to get into our room and get ready for our dinner ressies at the Coral Reef (CR) for 5:00 PM. We took the Friendship Cruise back to the BC and had the bell man to bring our luggage down to our room. We arrived at the IG at 4:30 PM and got to the CR a little bit ahead of schedule. The kids loved the fish tanks although I was very disappointed to learn that the hammerhead sharks and dolphins are no longer part of the exhibit. We sat in the second row and I felt that we had a perfect view. The manager came over to our table and asked the kids how they liked the fish. Brendan said he was disappointed because there were no sharks. The manager stated that she would be happy to take them over to the other side of the restaurant to get a better look at the sharks. A very nice gesture and the kids were happy to sate their "shark" need. While we were waiting for our meal some divers swam by. Brendan thought that this would be a perfect picture so he ran up to the tank to take one. All the divers grouped together and posed for Brendan! Another great moment, unfortunately the picture didn't come out, but Brendan was just as thrilled with another wonderful audience. For dinner I ordered the salmon which was absolutely delicious. The kids split an adult entree, grilled chicken, and also enjoyed it. For dessert we all had cheesecake (extra sit-ups required for this). The final total was $71.81, love that Grand Plan! After dinner we toured the Living Seas. I had the kids convinced for a while that we were truly under the sea. They definitely liked this set up better than Terrors of the Deep at SW, hmmm. Next we went over to the Universe of Energy (UoE). Just as the pre-show was about to start Brendan announced he had to go to the bathroom, AAARGH! So we had to leave the show to use the bathroom. Since we missed that show we decided to head over to Body Wars (BW) with no wait! I wasn't thrilled at all with this ride. It was interesting from a scientific perspective, but it went way over the kids' heads. I was also expecting some queasiness since I just had dinner, but fortunately I survived the ride with no incidence. Once we exited BW we headed back to UoE. Well the ride was terrific and the dinosaurs were definitely improved since I last saw it, but Brendan again had to go to the bathroom. This time we were stuck in the middle of the ride. I have got to remember not to let him have so much soda at meal time! Well it was hard to enjoy the rest of the attraction but we made a beeline run to the bathroom as soon as we could exit, whew!
We headed back to the room for sweatshirts since it was starting to get a little bit chilly. We had reservations for an illuminations cruise! Thanks Lynde! She booked this for us through the Board Walk. We met our boat at the BW dock. Our driver's name was Debbie and she was terrific. She had the boat all decorated for us and let the kids choose the pre-show music. She obliged Brendan by letting him sit with her in the driver's seat. Boy was he beaming. Erin just kind of lounged herself on the seat towards the bow. What a night, perfectly clear. I couldn't help but feel a little bit boastful when I saw all those people crammed together along the EPCOT walkways. Illuminations was fabulous! Words cannot express the spine tingling I felt to view this spectacular show. The Circle of Life song was definitely key. I was only kicking myself because I again forgot my camera bag. Brendan did however take a picture of our driver for his own photo keepsake. Just a side note, all the boats that go out for Illuminations are from the BW, Dolphin, Swan, and Y&BC. The Breathless is temporarily undergoing rehab so they are using the pontoon in it's place.
A wonderful day and a fantastic finish. Upon entering the room we found the curtain drawn, three chocolates, a nice little good-night note and the bed linens turned down nice touch. }-o Lights out at 9:30 PM.
Wednesday, October 9, 1996
We woke up this morning at 6:45 AM. I ordered room service for breakfast the night before and the waiter knocked on the door shortly after we woke. Another perk with our plan. I figured it would be a lot easier and healthier to have a full breakfast in our room before we ventured into the parks. This way we would not waste time at a sit down restaurant and the kids would have the necessary fuel to jump start their day. Our breakfast consisted of french toast for the kids, pancakes and coffee for me, orange juice, and a fruit plate with yogurt, $69.47! This also included the tip but I felt that the bell waiter was put off that I didn't give him any other compensation, geesh! We left the room at 7:45 AM and picked up our car through valet service. Erin was scheduled to participate in the Kidventure Program (KP) that is offered in conjunction with Discovery Island. The program is offered for 8 - 13 year olds (I cheated a little bit about her age) and is $32. This was the only thing my plan did not include, but I thought it was important for Erin so I signed her up anyway. The kids are picked up at either the Contemporary or Wilderness Lodge marina. They leave between 8:15 and 8:30 AM and return between 1:00 and 1:15 PM. The children do a craft project, have lunch, and pose for a picture in addition to learning about the habitat of the animals on the island. I felt that this helped me justify somewhat taking her out of school for the week. Once Erin was picked up and I had signed the necessary waiver, Brendan and I took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom (MK). We got in as soon as the ropes dropped and walked swiftly over to splash mountain. With no wait we got in the first row, we were going to get wet! What I didn't realize is that you get a good dousing from the other boats' final plunge prior to your own entry, watch out!! The ride is very well done. Brer rabbit is great, Brendan loved the little house and mini laundry on the clothes line. It was cute to watch him waving at the characters as if they were real. The little drops throughout the ride were exciting, building us up for the final plunge. The plunge was unbelievable. It is definitely not as intense as TZTT, but it was heart pounding irregardless. Brendan of course loved it, nothing can go fast enough for this kid! From there we went right over to Thunder Mountain RR (TMRR). The attendant at the gate gave Brendan a gold nugget! This ride has always been one of my favorite at WDW. I am not a roller coaster fanatic but this ride is mild enough to really be enjoyed by most people. Another thumbs up ride for Brendan. Well, I guess we didn't get quite enough of our mountain thrills so we decided to head over to Space Mountain (SM). I remember being petrified on this ride ten years ago, but after TZTT and SM I was a thrill ride veteran. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this ride. I do, however, remember it being much darker 10 years ago. From there we headed over to the Lion King and got in just as the show was starting. This show was superb! Brendan was beaming from ear to ear throughout the show. I do have to say that even though we were in the fourth row, Brendan had to sit on my lap to see. Why don't they tier the seats more so that young children can sit and get as good a view as the 6 ft 6 person in the front row?!! Well, time for one more ride before lunch so we went to the other big demand ride, Dumbo. Brendan loved this ride at DL and he was thrilled that he figured how to make it "fly" this time! At this point the MK was getting very crowded so we decided to cut out. It was now 11:30 AM and we got to sit in front of the monorail over to the Contemporary! We each got a copilot license I figured I'd save mine for Erin since she missed out. As we were walking through the Contemporary we ran into Tigger in the lobby. Brendan again whipped out his camera and after a quick snap, hug, and pose for Mom we got in our car to have lunch at the WL.
We had such a great time at WC on Monday they we figured we'd modify our plans to have lunch there again. We asked for Izzy and were very disappointed to find that he was on vacation for the rest of the week, :-( . Brendan was definitely bumming he really enjoyed Izzy's antics. Our waiter this time was Jeffro Bodeen. Although he was definitely entertaining, we had higher expectations. Brendan was also disappointed to that there was no horse race during our lunch time. I had a Marshall Zeke, a smoked prime rib sandwich. It was fabulous! Brendan had his specialty PB & J with no PB. I also had a salad and we each had a soda. Bill for lunch was $27.91.
Since we had about a hour until Erin was to arrive (I requested that they drop her off at the WL) we decided to walk around the hotel. Brendan and Erin were also starting to collect the pressed pennies throughout WDW. In addition I allowed them to collect the limited edition quarters with their own money. They had each saved a substantial amount of disney dollars over the past year for various good deeds and chores. Each of the resort hotels had a limited edition quarter presses. The one at the WL was Pocohontas. I also remember the Beach & Yacht Club was Tinkerbell. Throughout our stay the penny and quarter presses became an enjoyable part of our touring. It was now getting closer to 1:00 PM so we decided to head over to the marina to get Erin.
Erin had a great time. She showed us a picture of her holding a cockatoo named Zazu on her arm. She also presented an imprint of a bear claw and some miscellaneous "nature" finds. They had given her hot-dog and chips for lunch. Erin absolutely loved this adventure and couldn't wait to bring her information to her classroom teacher. I feel it was money well spent. We left the WL at 1:30 PM and headed back to the BC. Our dinner ressies were not until 5:45 PM and I would have had the kids take a nap but housekeeping had still not done our room. Instead I decided to let the kids swim in storm-along bay (SAB). Erin felt too intimidated by the slide, but she didn't want to hang around in the "kiddy" area with Brendan. I in turn suggested that we go to the smaller pool where Brendan can hang out on the pool steps and Erin can definitely do her deeper swimming. We made a pit stop at Beaches and Cream for a snack $6.29 included in GP and then ate it on the way to the other pool. This worked out great, since our room was down there anyway. Additionally, I could do some laundry while the kids swam. Ironically the kids enjoyed this pool more than SAB they felt that this was their "private" pool since they had it all to themselves! The laundry room was in easy viewing range of the pool area so I felt confident that I could let the kids play while I attended to that. After swimming I went back into the room to find that housekeeping had still not arrived. I was a little bit miffed since it was 3:00 PM! I called housekeeping and explained that I had two young children that will be needing naps during the day, and that I hoped that this was not going to be the trend during our stay. Housekeeping apologized profusely and sent someone down immediately. The room was done within 15 minutes, and during the rest of our stay we had a clean room by 10:00 AM! Well, the kids finished in the pool and I finished the laundry. We needed to get changed for dinner. When I came back in my room I found a wrapped gift from the Grand Plan office! It was a wooden checker set with the Y&BC logo on it, nice! An accompanied card was from Lynde Dodge. I soon found that we were going to receive these gifts daily, a very nice unadvertised bonus!
We headed over to EPCOT and did a quick 10 minute wait for Maelstrom in Norway before dinner. Erin loved this ride, and Brendan loved the trolls, very short though. Dinner tonight was at 5:45 PM at the San Angel Inn in Mexico. I was looking forward to eating here because of the good things I had heard from RADP. Unfortunately I cannot concur. I felt the service was extremely poor, and the tables were much to close together. For a so called romantic restaurant I learned more about what was going on at the table next to me than what my own kids were saying! I do have to award the prize to SAI for the coolest kid's placemats. They had the Disney Characters in Mexican garb that they could punch out and stand up to overlook their plate. My daughter, however, was disappointed to not have any crayons to draw with. The kids had chicken & cheese quesadilas which were well received , and I had the beef brisket which was gamy and tasted like old tires! What a disappointment! I have had good Mexican and this clearly was not it! The kids had milk and ice cream to complete their meals. I can honestly say the best part of the meal was the complimentary nachos and salsa, although even those tasted like they came out of a bag! I waited around forever to settle the bill and then when I finally paid it they screwed up the Grand Plan card and had to resubmit it.. Geesh!! At this point I was miffed. The kids had reservations at the Sandcastle Club (ScC) for 7 PM and we were running late. Unfortunately we had to miss El Rio de Tempo because of that, oh well.
I dropped off the kids at the BC ScC. I was fully intending on having a few hours to myself. The ScC had a row of arcade games, arts and crafts, building blocks, reading books, snack, with a dinner option, and a superb staff,. My kids thought this was the best part of the trip! Again the Grand Plan covered 6 hours of baby-sitting for each child per day including the kid's clubs. I signed them in then went off to browse EPCOT for a while. I went into the shops and viewed some of the nighttime entertainment. I was actually finding it hard to keep going! I am in pretty good physical condition, I work out regularly, but my legs were had turned into gum! I found myself to be extremely fatigued and decided to get something from La Patisserie and just do some people watching. This helped somewhat, but it was only 8:00 PM! I decided to exit EPCOT and take a walk over by the Board Walk. Let me tell you this is like a mini Pleasure Island! There is lots going on and it was always hopping! I do have to agree about other postings that anyone having a room overlooking the festivities would have a hard time sleeping, it was always bustling! I browsed the shops and noticed that both the ESPN club and Dueling Pianos seemed to be already quite busy. These were the times that I really missed Neal. It's nice to not have kids for a while but it would have been a little bit more special to have my significant other with me. I also have to note that the most romantic spot that I noticed was the walkway below the IG. The music and waterway accompaniment just seemed magical :-( (another "I miss Neal" moment). Well it was now getting close to 9 PM and I was beat. I picked up the kids from the ScC. They were very upset to have to leave! The bill for that service came to $18 for the two of them. We headed back to room #503 found our three good-night chocolates and turned down beds. Lights out at 9:30 PM.
Thursday, October 10, 1996
Woke up at 6:30 AM and had in-room breakfast brought in at 6:45 AM. This morning breakfast was oatmeal with brown sugar and granola. orange juice, fruit plate, and coffee. Total bill came to $46.31. I have to say that the bell waiter was the same one and I couldn't help but feel that he felt shorted by us. I had confirmed that tipping was included with GP but I think this guy just felt entitled to a slipped bill from me. This time he left the tray on the bed and didn't even set it up. I was beginning to feel guilty about ordering room service! Anyway we fueled up on breakfast and got ready to head over to MGM. For the first couple of days I decided to avoid early entry and concentrate on the less crowded parks. This seemed to be paying off we barely encountered any significant lines.
We took the Friendship cruise over to MGM and arrived at 8:00 AM just as the gates opened. Once we were in the park I stopped at the photo express to have our film developed. I then stopped at guest services to change our lunch reservations from PTC to the Sci-Fi Restaurant at 11:00 AM. We then got onto the Great Movie Ride (GMR). Unfortunately, Brendan was doing the bathroom dance so we had to exit quickly before we got on. I have got to develop a better system for bathroom checks! Anyway, we finished quickly and were able to catch the next ride. We got on the gangster side This ride is so well done! The kids played up the gangster scene even though they both knew it was make believe. Their favorite part by far was the Wizard of Oz, it really felt like we were in Munchkin Land! I have to note that my great uncle was the tin man in the Wizard of Oz, Jack Haley, so this movie has special significance for me. From the GMR we headed over to the Little Mermaid (TLM) and were able to catch the first show with no wait. I have to honestly say that this was the best Disney experience we had. So well done! I will never forget the face on my daughter as she watched Ariel sing, beautiful! The rain was also a very nice effect. As with the Lion King, Disney did a unique mixing of movie and AA effects, so many children were able to follow the story line! After TLM we headed over to Catastrophe Canyon (CC). IMHO this ride is passable. Apparently they have changed this so you have to go through the studio tour before experiencing CC. The tour was certainly informative but I felt it took too much out of our morning schedule. BTW sit on the entry side of the tram or you will get very wet! Next we went over to a virtually empty Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground (HISKP). What great photo opportunities! Even with the scant attendance I was still nervous about losing my kids, boy is that playground complex! To Brendan's dismay we did not spend as much time as he would have liked, and unfortunately it was just to crowded later to revisit. We had early ressies at Sci-Fi Theatre for lunch. The place is OK but I agree that the food was bleh. I ordered a porterhouse steak that was worse than the beef I had at the San Angel Inn yesterday! It was something that sat in my stomach the rest of the day. The kids had grilled cheese and milkshakes and seemed to enjoy them as well as the ambiance. Brendan was a little bit confused, however, why someone else was sitting in "our car". I don't think I would eat there next time I visit. Our lunch total came to $51.18 including tax and tip.
We had enough time to head over to the Hunch Back of Notre Dame (HBoND) for the 12:00 PM show. The pre-show was great. They had a jester type entertainer who performed various juggling techniques. We were sitting in the 2nd row to the right of the stage, excellent seats! The show itself was excellent, the music is extremely dramatic and definitely spine tingling. We all enjoyed it. Clopin and Esmiralda were exceptionally good performers. I was also impressed how the "extras" not only filled in the chorus but were part of the set changes, making for a very smooth transition between scenes. Once we left the HBoND I asked the kids if they wanted to wait for the Toy Story Parade (TSP), there were still a number of good "seats". Surprisingly, however, they were not really interested so instead we ducked into Star Tours with no wait. When we got out TSP was just passing by so we got as close as we could and still got a reasonable view. I agree that this parade could have been made longer it is definitely too short. The kids still enjoyed it even though we were a few people deep. From here we headed over to Beauty and the Beast (BatB). This was my all time favorite Disney show but I have to say I was not as impressed with this as I was with the HBoND. Don't get me wrong it was still very good, but not exceptional.
It was now roughly 3:00 PM and Brendan was suddenly not feeling well. I bought the kids some bottled water and started to head out of the park. We almost forgot to pick up our pictures that we had dropped off for developing earlier today. I then dropped off another roll for pick up at the Beach Club and we left MGM. We took the Friendship boat back to the BC and rested in our room for about an hour. Today's gift was a wooden playing card set with Y&BC logos on the outside case and photos of the resorts on the playing cards themselves. I had dinner reservations at 1900 Park Fare for 5:30 PM. We caught the bus from the BC to the MK at 4:30 PM. We arrived at the MK at 4:45 PM and decided to do a little shopping before dinner. I had a quick silhouette done of the kids to match the one I had done at DL 2 years ago. It was also a chance for Erin to see the castle cake up close since this was her first time in the MK. It was extremely crowded at the MK and we needed to head over to the Grand Floridian for dinner. We got there 10 minutes late but we were still seated immediately. Prior to us getting to the restaurant they had a full royal greeting with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They do the whole marching regale as Minnie and Mickey exit the GF lobby and enter 1900 Park Fare. The buffet at Park Fare had a great selection to choose from and even the kid's buffet was quite extensive. The kids had Mary Poppin's drinks that just seemed a bit too sweet. We sampled the buffet although Erin pointed out that the spoon bread was definitely her favorite and I thought the bread pudding with vanilla sauce was delicious! We were also blessed with frequent visits from Mickey and Minnie. Bill for dinner came to $53.33. After dinner I figured we could head over to the MK since Erin had not had the chance to ride any of the rides yet. As I said before, this park was just so crowded. I feel strongly that people visiting because of the 25th anniversary were giving special attention to the MK. The other two parks never seemed to be as crowded. We queued up for Pirates of the Caribbean with about a 15 minute wait. This ride was definitely not as good as the one in DL, even Erin seemed disappointed with the plunge, although both kids liked the AA. From Pirates we headed over to TMRR with about a 10 minute wait. Erin was toughening herself up for SM and she picked the itinerary for the night. Erin loved TMRR and finally declared that she was ready for SM. We got on with no wait! We had the option of the first row but moved to the 2nd one because I felt that everyone would be miserable with wet clothes at night. Erin was outwardly nervous although she did seem to enjoy the inside theme. Well the final drop came and went, and Erin endured it. She did say she liked it, although, she did not want to do it again. Both kids were thrilled to spot the penny press machine at the exit. Kind of a trophy for the ride survival! We also bought the picture at the end, $10.55 with tax. I'm surprised I didn't swallow half the water, my mouth was open so wide from screaming! From there we got to view the Spectro Magic Parade. Beautifully done with wonderful music. The kids, however, were just not that into the parades. I guess they felt like they were going to always miss something. Instead we weaseled our way over to Space Mountain and got on the last ride of the night. Surprisingly Brendan was not that thrilled with the ride this time. He sat in the front seat and I think the view was just too intense for him. Well as we were coming out we got to view the MK fireworks and got caught in the massive onslaught to the main gate. The kids were definitely tired as we made our way to the bus stop. Fortunately we got on the bus immediately and got a seat. Brendan curled up next to me and immediately fell asleep. We got to the BC by 9:15 and all of us were in bed by 9:30 PM.
Friday, October 11, 1996
6:30 AM, and the "Breakfast Man" as Brendan called him, woke me up. OOPS I overslept! The kids were still sleeping while he moaned and groaned about the dark room, must have been still looking for his extra tip. Again he left the food tray on the corner of the bed, I signed the bill and he was gone. Fine, be that way!! Anyway I let the kids sleep until 7:00 AM while I set up the breakfast. This morning I figured they could have cold cereal, fruit, and OJ. I stuck with coffee and oatmeal, it's pretty good stuff! Today's breakfast total was $41.74. The kids woke up at 7:00 AM and was Brendan grumpy! I think the trip was beginning to play on him. We were headed over to EPCOT for early entry today. 7:30 AM the IG doors opened. A quick trek down to Spaceship Earth (SE) and rode with no wait. Both kids loved this ride, Brendan felt he was in outer space! I remember the old version with Walter Cronkite, and even though Jeremy Irons does a good job it's just not the same. After SE we went over to guest services to change our reservations for lunch. Originally we had plans to eat at the Coral Reef but we had already eaten there, and I didn't feel like trekking back once we were in World Showcase (WS). Anyway, we got preference seating for the Biergarten in Germany for 1:00 PM. After making our lunch arrangements we headed over to Honey I Shrunk The Audience (HISTA). This 3D movie is very well done. Good old Brendan broke his glasses, while waiting. He wasn't thrilled about wearing lopsided glasses during the show. I do have to note that this show IMHO is just TOO intense for young kids. The effects really pop out at you and I heard a number of kids screaming at the lion and snake scenes. The mice effect was great.sooo creepy! From HISTA we then boarded Journey Into Imagination. I loved this ride last time I was hear. I think Figment is so endearing and my kids felt the same. This was one of their favorite experiences in all of WDW! Erin bought a Figment plush and Brendan bought two Figment figurines in the gift shop inside the pavilion. From there we headed over to the Wonders of Life (WoL) and queued up for Cranium Command (CC). After a 5 minute wait we entered the pre-show. This is another well done show, although I found myself explaining the setup to Brendan often. It is very humorous from an adult perspective as the celebs represented do a fine job in their bodily function "roles". Immediately following CC we headed over to The Making of Me. I found this film to be very tastefully done. A wonderful introduction for any parent to discuss the process of being born to their child. I did, however, encounter innocent questions from Brendan that were quite humorous. He was absolutely convinced that he hatched from an egg! Oh well, a couple more years and we'll be able to clear that up! It was now mid-morning and since we were having a late lunch I bought the kids a yogurt shake and fruit inside the WoL pavilion. This was one of the very few times that I had to pay for food out of my pocket. The GP did not cover theme park counter service. After finishing our snack we headed over to Horizons. I am in total agreement with the consensus of RADP that this is an absolute shame to close this ride. Both my kids loved it and I found the ride wonderfully relaxing. Yes, the orange smell was great!
After exiting Horizons we headed over to WS with our EPCOT passports. We entered O Canada! And as usual, as soon as the show was about to start, Brendan had to go to the bathroom, Aargh!! We decided to forgo that movie because upon our return the wait was close to 18 minutes. Instead the kids had their passports signed at the Northwest Mercantile. We browsed the shop and the gardens a bit then headed over to the UK. Here they had a special guest appearance by a cigar maker. It was interesting watching him form the cigars and hear about the maturation process. The kids had their passports signed and we were off to France. After France there was Morocco with a guest appearance by Aladdin and Jasmine. For some reason Erin became extremely shy and was unwilling to stand in line to meet them. Brendan loves Aladdin and was thrilled to give him a big high five and hug. The CM who was playing Aladdin was perfect, he certainly looked like the real thing! From Morocco to Japan. We watched the amazing Matsuriza, traditional Japanese drumming, which was really quite dramatic. Brendan was pantomiming the performance along the sidewalk with full body movement, :-) quite funny. The woman who signed their passports was very pleasant and in addition handed them an origami souvenir. After Japan we got to see the fife and drum march at the American Pavilion which lifted all our spirits. Unfortunately the wait for American Adventure was about 20 minutes and we had to get to lunch, oh well. We moved on to Italy, signed the passports and briefly browsed the grounds and then headed over to the Biergarten for lunch. Lunch was served buffet style and was actually pretty good. They had about 4 different cold salads as well as different types of sausage, sauerkraut and veggies. The kids had seconds! The show was mediocreno oompahs :-( After lunch we walked over to China and watched the 360 circa-vision movie The Wonders of China - guess who had to go to the bathroom?! Well at least we got to finish the movie this time, but there was certainly a quick exit. Afterwards the kids had their passports signed although nobody seemed to be able to direct us where to go! Finally before leaving the kids each bought a small pin. I think Brendan liked the double swords. Off to Norway with very tired feet and then Mexico. At this point we were pooped.
It was now around 3:00 PM. I had the kids lie down for a nap. We had 7:15 PM ressies for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (HDDMR) over at Pioneer Hall (PH) in Fort Wilderness (FW). While the kids were napping I had to pick-up my table confirmation and settle the bill. Apparently you are required to do this at least two hours before. Would they actually give your reservation away if you forgot to do this? Anyway the GP covered this as well. The total for one adult and two kids was $92.65 including tax and gratuity. I asked the CM who confirmed our ressies about the best way to get there. I had heard so many pros and cons that I wanted to get as much insight as possible. He, as well as the parking valet, stated that parking in the FW parking lot was the best way to go. That even if we parked at WL we would still have to take a boat. So bus vs. boat, hmmm, let me see. We finally decided to take the car to the FW parking lot, and take the bus from there. Parking was straight forward and the bus we took to PH was "Chip". We arrived with no problems enroute about 45 minutes before show time, so we walked around. We visited Minnie Moo at the petting zoo (yes, she's still there, pretty cool hidden Mickey!) We then browsed the shops and the marina. The kids wanted to play in the playground so I plunked myself on the porch while they attempted to get as grungy as possible. While sitting in the oversized rocker I had my first craving for a beer. I decided to splurge and actually have a change of pace from the Diet Coke. With the draught the bartender gave me some roasted peanuts. Well let me tell you, this was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip. I sat down on the porch and sipped a very nice and very cold draught, while I shelled peanuts. Talk about hokey, I felt I was truly part of old time country living, very nice! Brendan spied the nuts and soon he and Erin were sitting with me sharing my newly found snack. Soon enough, the dinner line for the 7:15 PM show started to move in. we gave the host our confirmation slip and he directed us to a table upstairs. I was surprised to find the chairs to be turned away from the show and facing the wall! Our waiter informed us that the chairs pivot and that once the show starts you just turn around! I had never heard anything specific about the food itself, just that there was a lot of it. The food was good but not great. I was disappointed in the corn. They mix it with peppers and spices (I hate peppers!). The fried chicken was very good, the ribs were passable. The bread was yummy, the butter was extremely fresh! The dessert was strawberry shortcake and plenty of it, excellent ending! Our seats were actually pretty good they were almost directly over the stage. Our waiter was great and the show was a hoot! The performers were constantly at our table making for a very interactive experience. Erin was visibly upset when the show was over! I was apprehensive about going to this show at all. I thought it the entertainment might go over the kid's heads and may be a little bit too hokey. It was a pleasant surprise to witness such an intimate an enjoyable evening.
Once the show was over we did bathroom runs and then queued up for the "Chip" bus. The route back was not quite as direct as coming in, but we got back to our car by 9:20 PM. We got in the car and drove back to the BC. Today's room gift was an umbrella. Lights out at 10:00 PM.
Saturday, October 12, 1996
We had intended to spend the day today at the Magic Kingdom, but we were just wiped out. We had been going on full throttle since we got to Orlando, and we were all bush-league tired! I figured we could swing over there tomorrow, and have a slightly easier time battling the crowds. I had forgotten to call room service the night before so we instead decided to have a bit at Beaches and Cream (B&C) and hang around the hotel for the day. Breakfast at B&C was actually quite elaborate. They have cold cereal, pastries, fruit, muffins and yogurt. The coffee, however, definitely needed a little bit more jolt. Breakfast came to $17.63, big difference from room service prices! The kids wanted to go hang out in the arcade room for a bit since SAB was not open yet. After playing in the game room we headed back to our room to change for the pool. We picked up our towels and had our hands stamped for the big slide. We then drifted for about a SAB. I love that sandy bottom! The kids finally asked if they could go hang around the smaller pool closer to our room. It amazed me that they actually liked this pool better! I figured I would throw in a load of laundry while we were in the area. At about 11:30 AM I had the kids shower off and get ready for lunch. We had initially intended to go over to the YC, but changed our plans to have lunch at B&C instead. The hamburgers here were excellent! The kids had two mini cheeseburgers with a basket of fries and chocolate milk. I had a double patty with fries and three lime rickeys! The bill for lunch came to $21.56. Very yummy! A quiet day with time to spare, we decided to head over to the DVM. I had some additional gifts I had wanted to purchase and I liked to get the discount with the MKC. It was a little bit less crowded at the WoD store but hectic just the same. We made our purchases toured the area for a bit then headed back to the BC for some quiet time. Today's gift was a Y&BC notebook portfolio. This was the first day that the kids actually watched TV for more than a hour!
The kids had asked if they could go to the ScC before dinner. So they stayed there from 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM. I took the time to shop in EPCOT. I had been looking for a decent Mickey Mouse watch for Neal and I finally found one at the Centorium Shop. It was a beautiful watch with a gold band and gold face, psyche, psyche, psyche!! I used the complimentary package delivery to my room so I wouldn't have to carry it with me, and possibly risk misplacing it (I've done that before.) I walked around some more and finally headed back to the room. I laid back for an hour before getting the kids. It was nice to have some moments of quiet! Total for the ScC was $22.50. We had dinner reservations at the Rose and Crown for 8:00 PM. I had requested through Lynde at the GP office for Illuminations seating. We were all set, with the stipulation that we had to arrive by 7:30 PM. I picked up the kids and we checked in at 7:25 PM. This was the only place that we had to wait for our table! When we finally got called for our table it was 8 PM. The hostess sat us inside! I explained to her that we were supposed to have an outside seating and she double checked the slip, kind of giggled and said, "OOPS, I guess I didn't read it right.". We followed her outside to a table near the street! I was ticked off now. I explained to her that we were supposed to have a viewing of illuminations and she dismissed it saying that everyone wants a view but that's why they call it preference seating not reservations. I then explained to her that I was assured that our seating would be within the viewing area, and that was the whole reason I was instructed to show up early. I further asked her if she really thought that it was OK for me to wait 35 minutes for a preference seating out of viewing range?!! Well she left us there to "see what she could do". Soon she came back and said that they had a small table for two overlooking the lagoon, but since there were two children they would sit us there FINE!! Hmph! We had to go stand outside the gate and wait so they could prepare our table. Finally a different CM came over and escorted us to our new table, front and center. He apologized profusely about the other CM's mistake. He stated that this was supposed to be our table all along and that she was new there and didn't know. Oh well, it worked out, but do I hate having to go through stuff like that! The irony was, however, that the table next to us, could easily sit five, yet only had two people! I wonder if we actually took their table? Illuminations was again wonderful and was great to see a different view than the one we saw Monday night. This time I managed to video tape it.
I would like to make a note about the arrogance of the human race especially "some" tourists. Right before the show a man came over and stood behind the table next to us. He seemed to be scoping out the area. After a few minutes he nudged the man who was seated at the table and asked him if he would mind if he and a couple of people watched the show from behind his table. The man at the table looked uncomfortably at him but agreed that it would be all right. Soon the other man came with his wife and six other people!! GIVE ME A BREAK!! Then, he had the gall to ask them if they would mind if his elderly mother could sit at their table during the show. So much for the intimacy the couple at that table were going to share. I guess it was their problem for not speaking up but, geesh!!
I would also like to mention a real positive about our waitress. Our food for some reason was delayed and we didn't get served until the show started. When she delivered our meals she noticed that I was absorbed with the video taping. She took it upon herself to cut up the kid's steaks! She also left the cover on my food so it would be somewhat warm when I was ready to eat. I had the prime rib which was a little underdone but very good, the kids each had steak and mashed potatoes. Excellent meal but I wish I could have eaten before illuminations, so I wasn't in such a frenzy about getting the kids to bed at a decent hour. The meal tab came to $49.70. We finally exited EPCOT at 9:40 PM.
Crawled into bed by 10:00 PM. We were exhausted!
Sunday, October 13, 1996
Well I should have known better that today would start off on the wrong foot. I woke and showered at 6:30 AM. Brendan and Erin were squabbling as I was toweling off in the bathroom. Great! We have a lot planned for the day and it seemed that no one was in the mood, including me. Well lets all settle down, after all this is our last full day, children!!! We had reservations at the Soundstage Restaurant (SSR) for 7:45 AM. This was an early entry day at MGM and I wanted to get the first seating so we could swing over to the MK for the rest of the day. We missed the first boat and seemed to wait forever for the second Friendship boat to leave! We got to MGM at 7:45 AM and booked it over to SSR for the character breakfast. Enroute to the SSR Brendan started complaining about his eye. He was holding his hand over it and refusing to let me look. When I finally got to take a look at it, it appeared to be fine. Brendan kept complaining irregardless. We got to the SSR and were seated immediately. Our waiter's name was Jeff and he was very attentive to our table. The CB was set up buffet style with both an adult and a children's serving area. The food was good but nothing extravagant. Brendan was still moaning and groaning about his eye and I was starting to get really stressed out. I had Erin go up and get her breakfast and I got a plate together for Brendan. Brendan refused to eat and was complaining even more loudly. When our waiter came back to the table I told him that I needed to take Brendan over to first aid. I figured he had gotten something in his eye and maybe they could help remove it. I hadn't even had breakfast but I asked Jeff if I could settle the bill. He immediately came over with another CM and told me that the CM (Chris) would walk Brendan over to the first aid station and when we were done settling the bill we could meet him over there. Brendan left with Chris and I waited to sign the bill for a breakfast I didn't even eat. When Jeff came back he told me where the first aid station was and that if I wanted to come back to the CB the hostess would give us another seating at no charge. I hurriedly signed the bill and ran over to the first aid. I knew Brendan was in a lot of discomfort and I was hoping to rectify it so he could enjoy the rest of the day. As we were walking through the Brown Derby lot Erin spotted Brendan being wheeled back to us in a wheelchair by Chris! What a pitiful sight! He was slumped over in the chair with a pack of ice on his eye. Apparently first aid found no indication of any foreign matter or scratch, but they gave Brendan a complimentary wheelchair so he would keep the ice on his eye. I asked Brendan if he wanted to go back to the CB (Aladdin was his favorite character) and he said he did. I let him milk the sympathy, but I kind of felt that the wheelchair was a bit much! Anyway, we got back to the CB and endured the rest of the breakfast, Brendan got special attention from all the characters. Even Belle left her lipstick on his cheek in hopes that he would feel better! The characters we saw were Belle, Aladdin, Meeko, Genie, Clopin, and Quasi Modo. After the CB we headed over to the bus stop to take a bus over to the MK. We got on the wrong bus, instead we were heading to EPCOT. Brendan asked me if he could put his head in his lap and started to again show major signs of discomfort. Now here I am going to EPCOT. I knew the MK was not going to be an option so I figured we would just go back to the BC and ice down his eye. Brendan was now starting to scream. He was showing some real discomfort and he adamantly refused to walk. I went over to the wheelchair rentals and showed the attendant my card from MGM. I explained how they had given me a complimentary wheelchair and that I needed one just to get to the other end of the park. She gave it to me very reluctantly but I knew that I just wanted to get Brendan back to the room. Brendan settled into the chair and seemed OK once we started walking. I spotted Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter and asked the kids if they wanted to stop, but Brendan claimed he just wanted to get back to the room. When we got to the BC it was about 10:30 AM and Brendan wanted to lie down. Within 10 minutes he was fast asleep. I talked to Lynde at the Grand Plan Office to find out how I could get medical care for Brendan if his eye was still bothering him. She said that she would be willing to drive me if and when I needed it. Brendan slept for 3 hours! When he woke, however, he seemed to be in incredible pain. He was clutching his eye and screaming loudly! I called Lynde and she immediately met us at the valet station with a van. She personally brought us to the medical clinic at the crossroads plaza. She asked me what I was going to do with Erin while I was there. When I told her that Erin would have to just stay with me, she asked if I would mind Erin going over to the MK with her! She said that she had to inquire about some things at the MK and she would love if Erin would come with her! In addition she would line up the ScC for Erin at 4:30 PM so that I could attend to Brendan! I was so grateful to her, where else would anyone go this extra mile?!! It must be Disney! Anyway after Lynde left I realized I neglected to take my kid's insurance cards (don't ever do that!!). Brendan was in visible distress so they took him in immediately. I signed a form so they could treat him and within 20 minutes Brendan was better! They found a 3mm size scratch on his right cornea. Apparently this type of injury causes immense pain. They gave him an anesthetic and patched his eye. The doctors were great, all impressed with Brendan's "pirate" look. The visit cost me $85 plus an additional $22.98 for prescriptions. The hospital then took me back to the BC at no charge! Brendan laid down in the room and at 4:30 PM Lynde called to see how we were doing. She had taken Erin all around the MK including through the tunnels and behind the scenes. She had also let Erin cut the lines of any of her favorite attractions! Unfortunately we did not get to make a day of the MK, but I was extremely grateful to Lynde for allowing Erin to still experience the park.
It was now 4:30 PM and Erin wanted to go to the ScC. Brendan was feeling loads better, and also wanted to go, but I was unwilling to let him out of my sight. Instead we signed Erin in to the ScC and headed over to Cape May Caf for dinner. Brendan was the hit of the restaurant. All the CM's gave him extra special attention especially our waiter Tony. Brendan even asked Tony to come live with us in our room. (Neal would love that!) Dinner consisted of wonderful clambake fare. I have to say, coming from New England myself, that the clams were a little bit too chewy. The muscles, however, were delicious! The meal was still tough to enjoy because even though Brendan was more comfortable he was still bothered at times with his eye. He mainly ate fruit and a rice krispie bar. The bill for dinner came to $35.90. We finished up the dinner and headed back to the room. Brendan went to bed upon return and fell fast asleep. I left him briefly to pick up Erin at 9:00 PM. The total bill for the ScC which included dinner for Erin was $21.50. Lights were out at 9:30 PM. Tomorrow we leave ;-( Today's gift was a Velcro "catch-it" set.
October 14, 1996 (Columbus Day)
Well it's our last day ;-(
Even with all the tribulations it had been a very special vacation. I was, however, still looking forward to going home and seeing Neal. We took our time waking up. Brendan had woken up a couple of times during the night complaining about his eye. I let him crawl in with me so he wouldn't disturb his sister. I had packed most of our items the night before so it was just a final check before I zipped up the bags. We had breakfast ressies at the Cape May Caf. I have to say that this was the most pleasurable CB we had during our stay. The characters "in residence" were Admiral Goofy, Chip and Dale, and special guest appearances by Roger Rabbit and Minnie Mouse. The buffet was also the most extensive one we had. Plenty to offer of just about everything imaginable and cooked to perfection! Brendan was much better than the day before but he still showed signs of discomfort. We posed with all the characters and gave extra good-bye hugs. The tab for breakfast was $38.40.
Our final gift for our stay was a gold plated Mickey and Minnie photograph album. Once breakfast was over I decided to check out of our room. My flight was scheduled to leave at 1:00 PM and I wanted to be a the Alamo rental to return the car by 11:00 AM. I called the bell hop who was their immediately and we picked up our car from valet. I gave extra tips to all of them they were fantastic! The valet CM's all gave the kids high fives and wished us well. Good Bye, Beach Club, we will miss you!!
Since it was only 10:00 AM I told the kids we could go for one more ride in EPCOT before we leave. Both kids requested Journey Into Imagination. We saw Figment one last time and briefly visited the Imagination interactives. Once we left the pavilion I realized it was 10:45 AM!! Well, maybe we didn't have as much time as we thought. To make matters worse the sun was bothering Brendan and his eye patch was unraveling. I decided to get to the car rental agency and deal with the patch at the airport. We dropped off the car with no problem and immediately got on the bus to the airport. We arrived at the airport at 12:00 PM. While checking our bags, Brendan's patch came off and he was complaining. I had to remove the adhesive and tie a bandanna around his eye to keep it protected from the sunlight. We grabbed a wheelchair so Brendan would be more comfortable and headed for our terminal. We got to our gate at 12:25 PM to hear them calling last call for our flight! I had made another major mistake, I had never confirmed the flight times with the airline before leaving. Our flight had been moved up a hour! Well whew, with a major sigh we got on our flight with 5 minutes to spare! We were on our way home.
Walt Disney World was overall a magical vacation. My kids are still talking about their experiences and memories. I will certainly remember the vacation with both the good and the bad. We hope to be going back in 1998 with Neal and his boys, hopefully our experiences here will have us traveling a little bit wiser next time!
Our magical moments that will never be forgotten:
- Our Beach Club Meet and Greet person "Art". As Brendan said, "Mommy that man is always so happy!"
- The Beach Club walkway to the International Gateway. Wonderful ambiance and very romantic. Tranquil and relaxing to hear the piped in music as you stroll.
- Lynde at the Grand Plan Office. Cannot say enough about her!
- The illuminations cruise. An absolute must be experienced!
- Belle at the Soundstage Restaurant, a magical kiss does wonders for any child.
- The fountains of EPCOT, where else can you find such pure inspiration for your day.
- Drinking a cold draught and shelling roasted peanuts on the porch next to Pioneer Hall. A simple pleasure that really takes you back.
- Izzy at the Whispering Canyon. It was his inspiration that convinced Brendan to be a cowboy for Halloween.
- The animal footprints along the walkways at the Wilderness Lodge.
- Tony at the Cape May Caf and Jeff at the Soundstage Restaurant great waiters that really cared.
- Walt Disney World itself. Only here can you view it as an adult, but also relive your childhood dreams through the eyes of your children.
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02-10-2006 02:06 PM