5/14/98 - 5/20/98
Travel Method: Plane
Players: Geoff, 41 been to WDW 3/96 and 5/97; Nancy, 35, been to WDW 3/96 and 5/97, also DL 6 times. Children: Jessica 17, MK only in 96, DL 5 times; Brianna 12 and Sara 10, never been to WDW, DL 9 times.
Resort: Coronado Springs Accomodations: 2 standard rooms (connecting)
Day One: Thursday, May 14: Geoff, Jessica and I left NY around 4:00 pm. Arrived in Orlando problem free around 10:00 pm (long layover in Philly). Got our rental car, Budget, without a hitch and arrived at the Coronado Springs (CS) around 10:45 pm. The CM checking us in was friendly, but seemed confused. We asked for room upgrades and she had to make phone calls to get someone to explain to her what we were talking about...being very tired, we finally just said never mind and went to our room and fell into bed.
Day Two: Friday, May 15: Up at 4:30 am (with a wake up call from Mickey Mouse!--wish I could wake up like that every day) to pick up Brianna and Sara who were flying in from LA. Geoff wanted to use the rental car to play golf at Magnolia later that morning to I took a cab to the airport. Fatal error! TIP: Dont take a cab unless youre desperate or have money to burn---one way cost $40--round trip $80! Ouch! However, the cab driver was nice enough to wait at the airport (no charge) for the flight to arrive and even met me at the baggage carousel to pick up the suitcases. Went back to the room and slept till 10:15 am.
After woke up the girls and I went to the Dig Site which is wonderfully themed with a huge Aztec pyramid with water flowing down one side and fragrant flowering vines growing on it. There is also a waterslide, which the kids loved, a childrens pool, and jacuzzi. Water in the pool was heated--felt wonderful! There is also a playground next to the pool. My girls are too old to play on it, bet we did check it out. TIP: Make sure your children wear shoes to the playground. The ground (a spongy like material) gets extremely hot. Looks like Disney was trying to alleviate the problem with little misters pointed to the ground, but between the wet spots, watch out! Brianna and Sara also got the "hair wraps" available pool side. Cost was $1.50 per inch plus bead, set us back $46--but they looked great!
Went to Pepper Market for lunch which is the CS food court. It is colorful and smells wonderful. Set up like a bustling outdoor market (and at times it gets very bustling!) in which you can visit different stations (grill, mexican, stir fry, pizza, desert, etc.) and select your food. They stamp your card for the item you buy and you pay on your way out. Prices are not exactly cheap--but who expects cheap at Disney. We all had tacos which were quite good and bought refillable mugs. TIP: Youve heard it before--buy the refillable mugs ($8.00) if you can. Youll save a fortune on drinks and they make great souvenirs. ANOTHER TIP: Pepper Market food can be purchased to go. Saves time waiting in line to get a table and you can take the food to your room or the outside veranda by the lake. Just ask to have your card stamped "to go" at the cashiers table.
After lunch we checked in to our additional room for the girls. Once again the CM was friendly but confused, telling us we had to move to another building because our connecting room was already occupied---turns out she was referring to the room we were already in. We got it straightened out---and stayed in the same building. Speaking of buildings...on advice of radpers I e-mailed CS ahead of time and request a resort map so I could select a room that was close to everything. Since I was there for a conference I wanted it to be somewhat close to the convention center and Pepper Market, but not too far from the Dig Site. I ended up selecting Cabanas 9B and it was an excellent choice. This resort is very spread out, so if youre looking for a central location, try Cabanas 9B or 9A.
We left for Planet Hollywood for dinner around 5:00 pm and were seated immediately (smart move because on the way out the line was long!). Ordered the spinach dip for appetizer which was fabulous! For entrees ordered a tomato basil pizza and a chicken artichoke pizza which the girls and I split with some leftover and my husband ordered ribs. The food was good and plentiful and the girls loved the atmosphere. TIP: If youre a Titanic fan they have a dress that "Rose" wore and an outfit of "Jacks" on display by the main staircase.
Next stop was Pleasure Island. Went to first showing of Comedy Wherehouse with a short (15 min.) wait. The girls loved the show and the humor was basically PG13 and quite funny! Next stop was the Adventurers Club--my favorite and the girls favorite too! I wont spoil it for you if you havent been, but go in, have a seat and just wait for the action to unfold--Kungaloosh! 8trax was next--had the dance floor almost to ourselves--the dancers in our group loved it, the non-dancers were bored quickly. Rock nRoll Beach Club lets in those under 18 with a parent, but my take is the place is not for kids--just skip it. Next we went to SuperStar Music Makers, where you can lip sync to a song and they make a fun video using special effects---it was a real hoot!
Then we walked over to Disney Marketplace to see the Lego store...one word describes it...incredible! They have very detailed life size and larger than life sculptures made of Legos--huge dinosaurs and a Loch Ness monster---definitely worth a trip to see, even if youre not a Lego fan (which Im not). Next we stopped in the Disney store. TIP: This store is HUGE. Pre-arrange a meeting time and place in the store if your party gets separated, otherwise youll spend a lot of time looking for each other. We then headed back to PI for the nightly New Years Eve party, which has been updated and is now called PI2000. The dancing and special effects were wonderful, but the music was too loud--almost painful. At midnight its fireworks and confetti (Id like to know who has the job of sweeping up every morning?). All of us loved the show, but we got separated on the way out as the crowd was feeling good (if you know what I mean) and a bit rowdy. This frightened my girls but we found each other ok. Back to the hotel and collapse into bed.
Day Three: Saturday, May 16: Up at 8:00 am and to Epcot by 9:30 am. Rode HISTA without a wait---we all loved this attraction and it is the favorite of mine and my husbands. Next saw Ellens Energy Adventure. The girls thought the "dinosaur" part was great, but the film part much too long....I agree. Although we all thought it was educational and worthwhile. Next my husband took Jessica and Brianna on Body Wars (Sara and I sat out---sensitive stomachs). All three agreed the ride was way over-hyped and much too short. The two girls even voted it the lamest ride at WDW. Next we all went on Spaceship Earth with only a 10 min. wait. Everyone really enjoyed this ride--beautiful effects, beautiful message. We then took a break for some water and shade. While sitting we heard an announcement for the ladybug release. This was done as part of the flower and garden festival going on at Epcot. Everyone in the crowd was given a little box full of ladybugs and asked to release them somewhere in the plats of Epcot. The man told the crowd that when a ladybug lands on you it is good luck. So we all took our boxes to a flower garden and released the ladybugs. Of course they initially crawl all over you...so the girls figured we would have really good luck for the rest of the day. TIP: During the flower and garden festival Epcot also does butterfly releases. These are magical experiences for your children...join in if you can.
Next we headed to world showcase and had lunch at the Cantina San Angel. We ordered chicken tacos and frozen margeritas (for the adults). We all thought the food was quite good...try it if you like mexican food. We toured world showcase riding El Rio Del Tiempo without a wait and Maelstrom with about a 15 minute wait. Then we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest.
Headed back to Epcot for our 6:00 PS at the Garden Grill Restaurant in the Land Pavilion. The service was slow but the food was fantastic. They grow the vegetables in the Epcot greenhouses and you can sure taste a difference! The catfish is also raised at Epcot. We were also served steak, roasted chicken, smashed potatoes, salad, bread and drinks. The childrens meal consisted of chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, applesauce and french fries. For desert, we had "worms and dirt"---yum. We all agreed this was the best meal we had at WDW. TIP: The restaurant rotates through the Living with the Land ride. Be sure to be seated on the lower level of the restaurant, on top level you cant really get the full effect of the ride. Also this was a character meal with Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale dressed as farmers---what fun!
After dinner we rode Living with the Land and Journey Into Imagination without a wait. As a matter of fact, both rides were almost empty. Had heard that you love or hate JII. I must say, I think it is WDWs most bizarre ride--but you cant help but fall in love with "Figment". Jessica, our teen, loved him so much she bought a stuffed "Figment" after we rode the ride. And we all (except my husband) ended up singing "Imaaaaaaaagination..." for the rest of the night.
We got our spot for Illuminations around 8:00 just past the bridge by the Rose and Crown. Unfortunately the wind shifted on us before the show started, so we missed a lot of the effects of the laser and our eyes ere filled with ashes, but we all enjoyed the show. TIP: If going to Epcot in the afternoon, park at the Boardwalk and walk into Epcot at the International Gateway. This really facilitated a quick exit after Illuminations.
Day Four: Sunday, May 17: Up at 8:00 am and arrived at MGM at 9:00 am for opening. First ride was ToT, even this early we had a 30 min. wait (our longest wait the whole trip), but we all agreed it was worth the wait. Even if you dont want to ride, you should at least get in line and go through he queuing area which takes you through he hotel grounds, lobby, and basement...the detail is incredible. I believe this is Disneys best themed rid. TIP: When riding ToT you will be guided into the "library." Position yourself (facing the tv) in the back of the room and to the far right corner. This will position you first in line for the next queuing area and will reduce your wait time. Next we hopped on Star Tours without a wait...everyone enjoyed this ride (except me...motion sickness). Afterwards we watched Muppet Vision 3D. It was very cute, but geared towards a younger audience. Our group enjoyed HISTA better. Next we went on the Great Movie Ride without a wait. We all enjoyed the nostalgia of this ride--only thing that spoiled it was the fact that our "driver" was obviously in training still, because a much older female CM seated in almost the back row of the vehicle kept shouting directions (rudely I might add) at him. I felt bad for the poor kid. After the ride, my 12 year old said, "Shouldnt the trainer have been sitting in the front seat so she could give him directions without shouting at him?"...If a 12 year old can figure that out, why didnt the "trainer?" Next attended the Indiana Jones Stunt Show...yawn! The good parts (stunts) last about 10 min. and the rest of the show is nutsing around with "extras" from the audience to stretch it into a 30 minute show...dont bother if youre in a hurry. Next we toured New York Street. TIP: This area makes for great photo ops with a police car and the NYC skyline in the background!
Hunger called so off we went to Prime Time Cafe for our lunch PS. The atmosphere was wonderful! Like youre in someones home in the 1950s. "Grandma" seated us and "Brother" and "Momma" tag-teamed waiting on the "kids" seated in the restaurant. It was fun and cute...but you have to want to interact with the staff to enjoy this restaurant. Although we all agreed it was the cutest restaurant, we also agreed the food was bland, at best, and way overpriced ($72 for lunch for 5 without any alcoholic beverages!). We recommend you just eat here for desert.
After lunch we headed over to the HISTK playground. Way too crowded....the two younger girls climbed around for about 15 min. and then we left....younger kids may enjoy it more. Next we went on the Backlot Tour with a 10 min. wait. This was quite interesting and educational. First you walk through a prop room, then you are taken to an area with a water tank to see a demonstration of how water scenes are filmed. Then you board trams to tour a neighborhood set and on to Catastrophe Canyon....I wont spoil it...but it was great! TIP: The younger children on the ride were terrified by Catastrophe Canyon. Think twice about bringing young children on this tour.
By this time it was 2:30 pm and we were all hot and tired. MGM is a relatively small park with lots of cement, blacktop and buildings with little relief from grass or water areas---we felt like we were baking in an oven all day. On the way out my youngest got sick so we stopped at the first aid center---they were wonderful! And they immediately sent out a CM to clean-up the mess my poor daughter had made.
Back to the hotel, the family napped, while I attended my first conference session. Later we had dinner at the Pepper Market. After dinner we changed into our suits and relaxed in the hot tub at the Dig Site. Later that evening we relaxed in hammocks on the beach area outside our rooms. We laid there looking at the stars, sipping ice cold drinks from our refillable mugs, talking and laughing. TIP: Believe it or not, there are actually mosquitoes at WDW (I didnt think bugs were allowed!). Be sure to bring insect repellent for the evening.
Day Five: Monday, May 18: The rest of the family picked this day to rest (much needed) while I attended my conference. My husband played golf at the Palm (shot a 79!). He said the course is challenging and beautiful. The girls slept late, watched tv, went swimming and worked on homework. The two younger ones rented paddle boats (a bargain for only $6.00) and really enjoyed it. The boats have canopies so you dont have to worry about frying in the sun. One surprise though--there was a small alligator in the lake! Im sure Disney will remove him (politely of course) soon! In the evening we went to the Boardwalk and Spoodles for dinner. This was a wonderful meal and a great value for the price. Our server, Lenny, was great and we told him so. The three girls ordered "make your own pizza." They bring out individual pizza crusts on artists pallets and all the fixings (sauce, cheese, and whatever else the kids want) and the kids "make the pizzas"--then the server takes it to the kitchen to bake. A great idea and the girls loved it! I ordered the risotto frittata (Lennys recommendation) as an appetizer and pizza and my husband had lamb chops. Definitely try this place out if you go to the Boardwalk. Later we strolled the shops then went back to the CS. We went to Pepper Market to refill our mugs and had a pleasant surprise. From the steps right outside Pepper Market you can see both the MK fireworks (over the Dig Site pyramid) and Epcot Illuminations to the right behind the Cabanas---it was magical!
Day Six: Tuesday, May 19: I attended the conference while my family went to MK. They arrived around 9:30 am and rode Space Mountain first without a wait. Next they rode Splash Mountain with about a 20 min. wait, then on to Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Test Track and Small World--all with about a 10 min. wait. They left the park around 12:30 and went back to the hotel for lunch and rest. TIP: If you order pizza at Pepper Market, one pizza is large enough for two children or moderately hungry adults to split. My husband left for the airport around 2:00 pm (he left a day early to play in a golf tournament). That evening, the girls and I had PS at Ohanas but decided instead to return to MK to go on some rides and enjoy fireworks. Arrived at the park (via monorail) around 5:30 pm. My youngest (10 yr. old) and I went on Alien Encounter while the other two went on Test Track again. Id heard alot about AE and how SCARY it was. It really was not so scary and only a little gross--way too much overreaction about this attraction--but Id say probably not suitable for children younger than a very mature 8. Next we saw the Enchanted Tiki Room (under new management)---we all thought it was darling and were singing, "In the tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room," the rest of the evening! Next PofC without ANY wait. I love this ride--I wonder why it isnt more popular? BTMRR next about a 10 min. wait--definitely a fun ride! Then we went on a search for food. Passed the Haunted Mansion and decided to ride. A couple in line heard us talking about food and told us to get some right after the ride as the restaurants (even the counter service ones) stop serving at 8:00 pm! So right after HM we scooted over to Pinochios in Fantasy Land just before they closed (at 8:00 pm on the dot!). After dinner the girls talked me into riding Space Mountain (never been on it before)---and Id have to agree with them, this is a very cool ride---a "must-see". After we rode SM it was 8:45 so we headed to Cinderellas Castle for fireworks---it was another magical moment with my girls huddled around me, twinkle lights in the trees, and fireworks over the castle! Afterwards, we browsed the shops on Main St. till the outgoing crowds died down--definitely the right move! On the way back we took the ferry this time. TIP: Position yourself at the back of the ferry so you can see the MK in all its glory as you pull away into Seven Seas Lagoon. Back to hotel and bed.
Day Seven: Wednesday, May 20: Our final day. I attended the conference in the early morning, then the girls and I headed over to WL for PS at Artist Point - character breakfast. The WL is beautiful and authentic, but we all agreed we liked CS better. WL just isnt what I envision for a Florida vacation--more like Aspen or the Adirondacks--but not doubt it is beautiful if you like that sort of thing. Breakfast was tasty, but service was slow and we never got the things we requested--our waiter seemed too busy playing with small children and characters--oh well! The characters (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eyeore) were great---particularly Tigger. After breakfast, we headed to Disney Marketplace for last minute souvenir shopping. TIP: There are several "jumping fountain" areas at DM. For a great outing, put the kids in their suits and let them play away while you sit in the shade and enjoy a sandwich from the Gourmet Pantry or some Italian ice. Then it was time to get in the card and head to the airport----till next time WDW!
Faxes: I received 5 faxes from work while at CS and only once was I notified I had a fax. If you will be receiving faxes ask your office to call you and let you know they sent it, otherwise you may never get your fax!
Lake at CS: We stayed at BC last year and I really enjoyed feeding the ducks in the lake. There were no ducks in the lake at CS---maybe because of the alligator we saw? Hope they bring ducks in though, its such a nice touch.
On CS: I would definitely recommend this resort for families and couples. The themeing is wonderful and there is LOTS to do! The girls just kept saying "We love it here!" If we come back with the children next year, we will most likely stay here again (if its just my husband and I, wed like to try the Grand Floridian next). However, the resort is spread out and cool shade is sometimes hard to find so I wouldnt recommend the resort if you dont like to do a lot of walking or if youre overly sensitive to Florida heat. If you stay here, be sure to enjoy the hammocks on the beach by the Cabana buildings----ahhhhh!!
On Time of Year: It was definitely worth having the kids miss four days of school do go during off peak season. Weve gone in the second week of May the last two years--the weather is warm (without being unbearable yet) and the crowds in the park are quite tolerable (avoid early entry parks though).
On Frightened Children: There were screaming children on ToT, Catastrophe Canyon, PofC, AI, and Haunted Mansion. If you have young children, remember, just the theming of some rides is VERY frightening to them. If your children are sensitive, use the "baby swap,"---for your childrens sake, for your sake, and for the rest of the audiences sake---I think youll be glad you did, and you can always bring the kids back to enjoy the "adult" rides when theyre older.
Must Dos: Illuminations, MK fireworks, HISTA, Space Mountain, afternoon naps, dinner at Garden Grill and Spoodles, resort pools, ferry from MK after dark, at least one character meal, ToT, Space Mountain (again), Spaceship Earth, Lego Store, Adventurers Club, slow down enough to feel the "magic"---after all, you are at the most magical place on earth!