MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
Mike Bachand - WDW (9-16 Dec, 1996) - BoardWalk Villas
- Time of Year: Holiday Season
- Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
- Resort: BoardWalk Villas
- Accommodations: Standard Room
- Ages Represented in Group: Adult
- WDW Experience Represented in Group: Veteran
- Comments: Mike Bachand and his wife made their annual trek to WDW in December. This is the story of that vacation.
Background: This was our (my wife, Julie, and I) sixth trip to WDW, third time during the Christmas season and the second time we have gone without our now college age children. My sister, Judy, has an 'at home' travel business so I did most of the booking through her. We originally made our reservations last February and eventually purchased the Jolly Holiday Vacation Package through the MKC. We purchased non-stop, round trip tickets from Boston to Orlando from Delta Airlines only to have them institute a new service called Delta Express. We had to be reticketed on that airline and a new flight at the standard reduced fare ($158/pp/round trip) for that service. We redeemed some of our AmEx Membership Miles points and got a full size, National Car Rental for a week at no cost. Prior to leaving we booked the JHDS, HDD, CP, Keys to the Kingdom tour (which was free because of my WDW Insiders Circle membership), Yuletide Fantasy tour, CB at Fulton's Crab House and numerous lunch and dinner reservations (actually Priority Seating).
Day 1 (12/9):
We arrived at Logan airport around 6am for our 7am flight. Except for not having very much leg room on the 737, the flight was non-eventful. When we arrived in Orlando (10:10am) we picked up our luggage and headed for the National Car Rental desk to get our car. No lines, so we zipped right through that and got into our Chevy Lumina (which had Conn plates which made it easy to find in the parking lots). On our way from the airport to WDW we ended up in the town of Celebration. (I stayed on the new road one exit too many, at least I think that was the problem.) In any event, since we were there we drove around the town for a short time before resuming our quest. I couldn't believe the amount of construction going on there!! We arrived at the BoardWalk Inn and Villas (BW) sometime after noon.
When we checked in we were fortunate enough to have our Studio room in the Villa ready. The Studio room was very, very nice. Plenty of room for just the two of us. We quickly unpacked and headed out to explore the hotel and the BoardWalk. We had a hamburger at the ESPN Sports bar and then headed off (by WDW bus) to the MK. Before we entered the MK we had time to find our brick which is located right out in front of the MK entrance. We took a few pictures and then went in to catch the 3pm Remember the Magic Parade.
After the parade, which was great, we mixed shopping and rides until the park closed at 7pm. We then headed over to the Grand Floridian and looked around at the beautiful Christmas decorations before we headed to the Contemporary. We had Priority Seating reservations for the California Grill for 8pm. We arrived at approximately 7:45 and we were seated immediately.
The meal (we both had the beef tenderloin) was wonderful! After an enjoyable and relaxing dinner we headed back to the BW. We had to take a bus from the Contemporary to the Disney Village Marketplace and a bus from there to the BW. We were exhausted and were fast asleep within minutes of our heads hitting the pillows.
Day 2 (12/10):
We got up early (6:30am) got ready and had a quick breakfast from the BoardWalk Bakery. Drove to Epcot and got there around 8:45am. We were taking the Yuletide Fantasy tour that morning and had to meet in front of the Guest Services (that's outside of Epcot) at 9am. We met our tour guide named Molly. She was just great! There was approximately 30 of us.
We boarded a bus and headed over to the Disney/MGM Studios. The bus entered through the Cast Member gate (did this at all three parks) and eventually ended up in the backlot. Molly showed us and explained all about the Osborne lights (which are impressive even when it's daylight and their off), the various decorations around the park and some of the reasoning for the decorations on the beautiful tree in front of the Great Movie Ride. From there we headed off to Epcot. Again we entered through the CM entrance. The bus drove right under the outside portion of the test track.
According to Molly guests won't be able to see the parking lot or any other backstage buildings because of the banking of the track and the design of the cars. We entered the World Showcase through gates next to Germany.
We walked from Germany, Italy, Japan and the American pavilion viewing the decorations and Molly explaining the different holiday customs in each country. Back on the bus we headed for the MK. We entered the park from behind the hat shop that is near the Reception Center. We walked half way down Main Street as Molly pointed out the decorations and the reason for them. Our last stop was the Wilderness Lodge to view the tree and other holiday decorations. The tour ended with our return to Epcot around noontime.
As we got off the bus Molly presented each of us with a bulb ornament as a memento of our tour. Both my wife and I really enjoyed this tour. Besides all the information regarding the holiday decorations, it was really interesting to see all three parks 'backstage'.
We immediately headed into Epcot and went to the Guest Services under Spaceship Earth to take advantage of another Insiders Circle perk; getting access to a special viewing area for Illuminations. Once that was done we headed over to The Land as we had 1:15pm PS for the Land Grille. Got there about 10 minutes early and had to wait till about 1:15 to be seated. I think they call this a 'Character Experience' since it wasn't a breakfast. In any event, the food was good and we enjoyed our lunch and visit with the characters.
We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting Future World. I just love HISTA and I thought that the Ellen show was a BIG improvement at the UoE pavilion. TIP: At the WoL pavilion there is a kiosk near the exit to Cranium Command (that show really makes me laugh) that says something about "reunion". If you touch the screen a live person appears and asks you a few questions. Within days of returning I received a one page newsletter with our names in it from MetLife and the WoL pavilion. Neat little keepsake! There was also a questionnaire concerning lost policies that you could either fill out or discard. Anyway, about 6pm we ventured back to BW to rest. At 8pm we met Debbie Wills and two of the folks she was traveling with, Cookie and Carol. We talked for a while and then headed over to Epcot to view Illuminations. To gain access to the special viewing area all I had to do was give my name. The CM checked her list and them escorted us down to a table already set up with five chairs. We relaxed, talked, took a few pictures, enjoyed each others company and a great view of Illuminations.
Afterwards we walked to Spoodles on the BW and had coffee and desert. We really enjoyed our time with Debbie, Cookie and Carol. They are just wonderful, warm and friendly people. Time flew and before you knew it was time to get some sleep. Too bad they were leaving the next day!
Day 3 (12/11):
Wednesday morning we got up and had a light breakfast on the BW and then headed over to Disney/MGM Studios for the early opening at 8am. (Disney transportation to Disney/MGM and to Epcot from the BW is via boats; no bus service to those destinations.)
Once in we did Star Tours and Muppet 3D (two favorites), Little Mermaid, Great Movie Ride and the Animation Tour as well as some shopping. We arrived about ten minutes early for 1:10 PS reservations at the Hollywood Brown Derby and we were seated immediately. Lunch was really good! This restaurant is a favorite of ours. Went to see the HBoND; what a GREAT show!! This show is not to be missed! Also saw the BatB show. I really liked the "pre" show that they're doing now at both of these shows. Talent was really good and helped pass the time quickly.
Late afternoon we headed back to the BW to get ready for the JHDS. BTW when we returned to our room we found only one of the two bags of merchandise that we had purchased the day before while we were in Epcot. We called the Centorium and spoke with a very pleasant CM named Nick who promised to replace the items that were missing. Also, when we got up this morning we found a light out in the room. We called maintenance before we left for Disney/MGM and when we returned we found a note telling us they had replaced the bulb.
Anyway, each resort had special buses that ran directly to the JHDS. The bus got us there in plenty of time for the 8:30pm show. We had great seats two table from the stage to the right as you go in. We really enjoyed the food and the show. My only complaint is that the place is just too big to put on that kind of a show. I don't know how people seated at the far end could see the stage that was near us. They were just too far away! After the show, we went outside to our awaiting bus which took us back to the hotel.
Day 4 (12/12):
Up early again and off to a wonderful full breakfast at Spoodles. After breakfast we took the bus to the MK as we were going on a Keys to the Kingdom tour that morning. We had to meet in front of City Hall at 9:45am. Our guide, Eric, gathered us up around 10am and got us started.
Our group consisted of 20 to 25 guests. For the most part we walked around the MK as Eric gave us all sorts of great insights about the park. Needless to say the best part was when we went down into the utilidors under the MK. We got to see the costume area and got to talk to one of the CM's that works on all the wigs. It's really a very, very busy and fascinating place.
We also got to see the area where all the parade floats are kept. We went into the building and had an opportunity to see and touch the Spectro Magic, Remember The Magic and the Christmas Parade floats. It was really great to see them up close. While we were there we got to talk to and ask questions of a CM who works with the characters. He explained a lot of what the characters can and cannot do, etc. The group had a lot of questions for him. The tour was a 4 ½ hour tour that included a half hour lunch break.
When the tour concluded we headed off first to the Contemporary Resort and then to the GF where we had PS reservations at the GF Cafe for 6:15pm. We arrived five minutes early and we were seated immediately. After dinner we headed back to the MK for the VMCP. We saw the early parade, which was great, the fireworks and had our picture taken. Saw the show in from of the castle/cake and went on a few of the attractions. We returned to our hotel around midnight. True to his word, Nick, from Epcot, had the additional merchandise delivered to our room.
Day 5 (12/13):
We slept a little later this morning (8am) before getting up and having a light breakfast on the BW. We drove to the Beltz Mall as Julie wanted to shop at the Character Warehouse. She got some really good buys there. We found three 25th Anniversary snow globes that were selling in the parks for $35 on sale there for $18. Some of the stuff is dated, and others they only have one size of a certain style, however, it's worth stopping by.
From there we went to Disney/MGM and had lunch at Mama Melroses Restorante. We didn't have PS reservations but were still seated within 15 minutes of arriving. We saw the Toy Story parade and saw the Osborne lights before we left. The lights were really something to see!! From there we went to Epcot where we had 9pm PS reservations for the Teppanaki Dinning room in Japan. Again we arrived early and were seated immediately. Food was great as was the company. We were seated next to a family from Singapore who was visiting WDW and the USA for the first time. They were having a ball!! When finished we caught Illuminations for the second time before we returned to the hotel.
Day 6 (12/14):
Got up and drove to DVM to have a CB at Fulton's Crab House. We had the early (8:30am) seating. The characters that came by our table were Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Goofy. The food and service was really good and we enjoyed having our pictures taken with each of the characters.
From there we went to Guest Services at Epcot to pick up our Candlelight Processional badges. The CP badge entitles you to a 15% discount on all shopping for that day. I won't go on with all the gory details, however, let's just leave it by saying that I'm sure Julie got whatever money we spent on the CP back in discounts. Later we had dinner at Alfredo's in Italy and then caught the 9pm CP. My guess is that about three quarters of the seating was taken that evening by guests with badges. The narrator that evening was Ed Azner and he did a superb job! The singing and music was just out of this world. I had wished it wouldn't end. What a great, great show!! From there it was back to the hotel.
Day 7 (12/15):
Slept a little late, had a light breakfast on the BW and then walked over to Epcot. Finished a few of the things we hadn't done and then headed for Germany. Had noon PS reservations for the Biergarten restaurant. Again no wait as we were seated immediately. Had a wonderful lunch. We were seated next to a young lady who had just arrived from Malta and was visiting with her boyfriend (from home) who was working in Cleveland for six months. He flew down to WDW to meet her. They spoke beautiful English and we enjoyed talking with them.
From there we went to the Fountenview Restaurant for our RADP get together. We arrived and were quickly spotted by Barb (aka, gardenia; aka, feral mermaid) and Kenny Cottrell (yes, the famous Kenny). Shortly afterwards Michele Warner, her husband and two children as well as Alicia Calsyn and her husband joined us. We spent the next couple hours talking and having a good time. It was really fun meeting these wonderful Disney fans! We took pictures and eventually had to head off in different directions. Julie and I headed back to the BW so we could get ready for the 7:15pm HDD. We drove to the main parking lot at Fort Wilderness and then caught a bus to Pioneer Hall. Even though the food isn't the greatest, we really do enjoy the show. I know it's corny but I still enjoy it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it was one of the first things we did during our very first visit to WDW. Who knows? In any event after the show we caught a bus back to the parking lot and a quick drive back to the hotel. This is definately the way to get to and from the HDD.
Day 8 (12/16):
Again, slept a little late, got up and started packing. We were going back with a lot more than we came down with. We knew that would happen so we brought an empty soft sided suitcase with us that we could use for all the 'stuff' we purchased. Once we left the hotel we headed for the DVM, did a little more shopping and browsing. We had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Lunch was good, however, the dish we had was a little too spicy considering the way it was described on the menu. Other than that, we thought the Rainforest was really well done and a fun place to eat. From there we took a sightseeing tour around Orlando and then headed for the airport and a flight back to Boston. Boy did we hate to leave!
Our experiences during this trip were just great! The BW was first class, the hotel was surprisingly very, very quiet, the lines at all three parks were either non-existant or quite tolerable, the parks and hotels were beautifully decorated, the shows and entertainment were outstanding, we didn't have a bad meal, we didn't have any problems with PS, avoided any and all tour groups and had outstanding weather during the whole trip! The only real negatives were the time it took to get to Disney/MGM and to Epcot from the BW via the boats, Julie got a sore throat and wasn't feeling 100% and that we eventually had to leave and go home.
Well, I'm sure I forgot something but that's all I can remember at this point.
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03-31-2006 08:21 AM