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Thread: Sue (Holland) Rayford, Villas at Grand Floridian, January 2016

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    Sue (Holland) Rayford, Villas at Grand Floridian, January 2016


    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (59), my husband (1/12 & 1/13)
    Amanda (28), daughter-in-law (1/13 - 1/15)
    Ari (6 months), grandson (5th WDW trip)
    Dates: January 12 16, 2017
    Resort: Disneys Grand Floridian Villas Resort
    Experience: Very Experienced but only 3rd stay at this resort

    Happy New Year no better way to celebrate a new year than by beginning a new round of trips! This trip includes Monday as a holiday from work, so that means a long weekend trip uses only one vacation day. Ill leave work at noon Thursday, take Friday off, and return to work Tuesday. This time Ill actually be driving home on Monday instead of early Tuesday morning. On Tuesdays I have an important meeting at 8:30 am, so its easier & better to just go home Monday.

    To my delight the weather looks gorgeous for this trip sunny, low humidity, low temps in the lower 60s, and high temps in the upper 70s. I cant ask for any better than that! I booked the trip 7 months in advance, figuring since theres nothing going on at Epcot this time of year I didnt need to use Beach Club or Boardwalk points to stay at one of those resorts (11 months in advance). Disney later added this new festival that begins this weekend, but at that point I wasnt interested in trying to change my location. Id booked a studio at the Polynesian and waitlisted Grand Floridian Villas, and that had already come through. SB has never stayed there, so I decided to keep that reservation.

    I knew hed only be staying for the first couple of days, so I asked Amanda if she & Ari wanted to come up for the weekend. Chris was interested too, but since I only have a studio that was not an option. For me, 3 adults and an infant are way too many people plus he snores! Snorers are not welcome in my sleeping space, lol! I did suggest they could check for a value resort room, but in the end I think hell be back home golfing while Amanda & I have a girls weekend with Ari. SB will head home after lunch on Friday, and Amanda will pick up Ari & hit the road after she gets out of work on Friday. Shell then head home around lunchtime on Sunday, since she doesnt get the Monday holiday where she works. Ill have that last night solo.

    I made our fastpasses right at the 60-day window, and chose attractions based on who would be there at that time. Amanda & I will have to ride Mine Train separately, since Ari is too short to ride, but other than that I think everything were doing is ok for an infant. Im eager to see what this new Festival is like, including the food kiosk offerings and the weekend concerts. It wont be nearly as convenient having to deal with the awful front entrance of Epcot instead of International Gateway, but I am looking forward to staying at the Grand Floridian again and enjoying some of the stuff in that area since I rarely stay out there. I also booked us seating in the reserved section for the early concert on Saturday night. Sunday Ill be solo, so it may be easier to get at seat or I can listen from outside the theater.

    The last couple trips Saturday has been horrific at the Magic Kingdom crowds beyond belief. If we have the same thing this trip, Im going to seriously have to move that park to Sunday for future trips. We have a fastpass to meet Mickey for another photo (with Ari) again, so if Saturdays bad well put up with it one last time.

    For dining I only made 2 reservations Grand Floridian Caf lunch with SB and Be Our Guest lunch with Amanda. We didnt renew Tables in Wonderland this year, as with the 50% price increase it just got too ridiculous. Last year I had for $100 and only saved $72.62 (yes, I lost money, lol). Some of that $72.62 I would have saved simply for being a passholder or dvc member, so TiW really only saves us money on alcohol and we dont drink enough to justify a $150 fee ($750 in bar bills to break even). Through September of this year passholders get 20% (instead of 10%) at many places, including several counter services places that I actually enjoy and are located along the monorail. Theyre too inconvenient to bother with when Im staying by Epcot or at Jambo House, so this trip is a chance to enjoy some of those.

    One last minute development was another round of ear infections for Ari, which ended up with a diagnosis of RFV (common & contagious respiratory thing in kids under age 2). He goes back to the doctor Friday morning, and at that time well know whether hes ok to make the trip. If not, he & Amanda wont be joining me.

    The plans so far are:
    Thursday 1/12: Drive to WDW, Epcot
    Friday 1/13: Animal Kingdom, Grand Floridian Caf lunch, Epcot
    Saturday 1/14: Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest lunch, Epcot
    Sunday 1/15: Epcot, Pool, Epcot
    Monday 1/16: Park or Disney Springs, Drive to Gainesville

    DAY 1 Thursday 1/12/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (59), my husband

    Plan: Drive to WDW, Epcot

    Actual: Today was a relatively calm half day at work, other than learning a former co-worker had been arrested for Medicaid fraud the day before and is facing up to 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. You never know about some people, I guess! In any event, SB & I were on the road in separate cars by 12:08, arriving at the Villas at Grand Floridian just after 2. Once again he left me shaking my head in bewilderment. We spoke at 11, to find out if hed decided to come or not (he was on the fence weighing relaxing at home on his days off vs driving to and from here when staying less than 24 hours). He decided to come along, and I told him I had his clothes for tomorrow he just needed to put on a pair of shorts & a shirt and his sneakers for today. I repeated the shorts and the sneakers several times. So, when I get home at noon, what is he wearing? Black jeans, a fleece long sleeved top, and black dress shoes! At least his sneakers were in his backpack, so we set out for our afternoon in 80 degree WDW with him dressed like that. I wore shorts and a tank top.

    Id gotten the not quite ready yet email about the room, but never got another saying it was ready. In the villas lobby they confirmed our studio wasnt ready yet. I asked if there were any that were ready, and after checking she said no. But, she notified them we were waiting for the room, so hopefully it would be soon. When I did online checkin 60 days ago, I specified a 1:30 arrival time. We gave our bags to bell serviced all but SBs backpack, since it contained his gun. He has a concealed weapon permit.

    We went out to the pool bar, and actually had a nice time out there. A beer and 2 drinks for him, 2 glasses of pinot grigio for me and a counter service burger set us back $71 with tip. The burger was surprisingly good I had a couple bites of one half, and helped with the very good fries. I dont think they take Tables in Wonderland out there, but we dont have that this year anyway.

    It was after 3:30 when we went back inside to find out why we hadnt received word about the room being ready. Our first fastpass was 3:05-4:05, so at this point we werent going to make that. In the lobby they said it still wasnt ready, and I was getting irritated. If we arrived an hour and a half ago, well AFTER the time I said on the online checkin, and if they knew an hour & a half ago that we were sitting here waiting for the studio, how the hell was it still not ready?? While we were discussing that, it popped up as ready. I mentioned wed missed our first fastpass, and she said she could adjust the time.

    Well, silly me thought she had some magic powers I dont, because Id tried to do that while at the pool bar (pushing it back only 20 minutes) and it wasnt possible. She told me she could get it for 6:50, lol but I said no thanks because we wouldnt be in the park that long. We were only going in for our Frozen fastpass at 4:25. She worked some magic and told us shed fixed it so we could ride Spaceship Earth at any time until park closed. That sounded pretty good, and I figured it was like one of those fastpasses that you can use for anything at any time.

    Bell services had brought our luggage so we went up to the studio to quickly get settled. The studios here are pretty, but the sleeping area seems so small. The bathroom is huge, and the space came from the rest of the room. Were right over the monorail track, which is what I requested. I unpacked quickly, and we headed out making the short (to me) walk to the monorail station. We were lucky to have a monorail arrive just as we got there, and when we transferred at TTC the Epcot monorail was waiting!

    At Epcot it wasnt very crowded at all, so both bag check and the entry went very quickly. My magic band reader flashed purple, but SBs did not. The DVC is only in my name, so I guess it only comes up for the actual member and not guests in a room booked with DVC points. I dont recall the cast member saying Welcome Home but maybe he did I honestly didnt care, since my only concern at entry is getting into the park without issue or delay.

    We went to Spaceship Earth, which pretty much had no line at all. We didnt need the fastpass, but (like fools) we used it. There was a brief delay at the beginning of the ride, but then it was smooth sailing, and SB made good choices for our future at the end of the attraction.

    From there we walked out to Future World and went to Norway for the Frozen attraction. At that point our magic bands did not work, and we were told we dont have fastpasses there we have them at Spaceship Earth! I insisted we did, and the cast member wanted to see my phone. I showed her the fastpass on My Disney Experience but when I refreshed it (at her request), it disappeared & was replaced with Spaceship Earth. We had 2 separate Spaceship Earths and a Nemo, but the Frozen was gone! I explained what happened at the resort, and a manager tried to help but the bottom line is we were not able to ride! I told them we never would have even come to the park if we knew shed wiped out the Frozen fastpass! None of that mattered we couldnt ride. How aggravating. The standby queue was 100 minutes, so that wasnt happening either! To think I passed up on Soarin for this, lol! At least weve both ridden before.

    We made a loop around the countries. I was curious if any of the festival stands might be open early, but they were all shut up tight, with signs saying theyd be open Friday (tomorrow). We left the park, since we truly only came to Epcot for that I wasnt making that up when talking to the cast members. On the way out a survey person asked if wed answer questions & we agreed. Unfortunately, they were all about Future World, which was all great. She knew something had happened, so after the survey she asked and I told her. She said shed enter that in her notes, and that had happened to someone else too.

    We headed up for the monorail, which was just pulling in so once again we didnt have to wait. While we were going around World Showcase wed discussed different dinner options. SB wanted chicken, so I used My Disney Experience to check the menus at Sunshine Seasons and Contempo Caf, and he decided he preferred Contempo Caf.

    We changed monorails at the Transportation & Ticket Center, then got off at the Contemporary. They no longer have the stations to self-order your food here. Now you pay at the register, and they give you a device to set on your table so they can bring the food to you. The big menu boards with pictures are at the entrance, so you can decide long before getting to the registers if you have a clue, that is.

    We got a couple cookies from the bakery case to take back to the room, then stood in line to order our food. They had 2 of 4 registers open, and both were busy with guests ordering for a small army, with limited intellectual capacity and a myriad of other issues. Finally the longer line started moving and it cleared out so we moved over there. Keep in mind we had a guy ordering for tons of people at the register, and a lady with a couple kids in front of us youd think wed get through faster than 4-6 parties in the other line! Yikes.

    SB had the chicken, which was excellent half roasted chicken, green beans & potato wedges. I had the caprese flatbread, which was also very good and half of it got taken back to the resort. We got ice water to drink, and with our passholder 20% discount everything came to just over $25.

    After dinner we headed up to the monorail and rode back to the Grand Floridian. The lines to board the monorail were horrific at Polynesian maybe the luau had recently ended or something. They werent much better at the Grand Floridian, either. We went back to the studio and settled in for the night. He found some old tennis matches on tv while updated the trip report. Soon well switch over to HGTV since hell likely be asleep anyway <g>.

    Today certainly had its challenges, with the room being ready so late, and then the Frozen fastpass fiasco. Part of me thinks I should complain, but a bigger part of me doesnt want to spend my time off complaining! I guess sometimes stuff happens, but its not right when it does.

    Other than that, its delightful being here. I cant imagine a family staying in a studio here its just too small. Its fine for a solo or a couple that doesnt need much space. I can hear the monorail going by, but its not a disturbing noise.

    SB is thinking of heading home in the morning, rather than doing our fastpasses. I already canceled the lunch reservation I made because he was coming, when he decided hed get on the road sooner to be able to enjoy most of the day relaxing at home. Either way well see what he wants to do when we get up in the morning. Tomorrow Ill learn whether Amanda and Ari will be able to make it, too.

    DAY 2 Friday 1/13/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (59), my husband
    Amanda (28), daughter-in-law
    Ari (6 months), grandson

    Plan: Animal Kingdom, Grand Floridian Caf lunch, Epcot

    Actual: Last night we both slept well, even with the monorail noise. Im not sure what time they stopped running, as we were undoubtedly both asleep by then. Id set the alarm for 5:30 and got up then, enjoying some quiet online time with my cappuccino. I do some jigsaw puzzles online and had noticed lately when Id click the mouse it acted like Id clicked it twice, which is annoying. This morning I tried to reply to some emails and it was impossible to include just part of the original message when using the mouse again it was like a single click was being a double click. The little mouse came from Amazon, so I ordered a replacement and it should be waiting for me when I get home Monday.

    With that done, I enjoyed hearing and seeing the monorails pass by as the sky slowly lightened and got ready for sunrise. SB busied himself sleeping, which was a bit surprising since hes normally up by 6:30 even on his days off. Just after 7 I got up to take my shower but Amanda texted so I checked that instead. Ari had developed a fever again, and she was feeling awful but had to go to work today. She was just warning me it wasnt looking good for them coming up, but I told her its more important they both get well. Disneys not going anywhere! Ultimately its her decision, but I doubt theyll be able to make it.

    SB got up and hit the road, looking forward to his day off watching movies & laying on the couch. I showered then made an egg and slice of bacon for breakfast, eating out on the balcony. Around 8:30 I walked over to the bus stop. I was a bit concerned when the monitors had arrival times for Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs buses, and the spot for Animal Kingdom was blank. I saw 3 Studios buses and when the time finally came up for Animal Kingdom it got pushed back 3 times. SB called from a Waffle House, which are one of his favorite breakfast spots, so he was happy. Finally the bus arrived, after about 20 minutes or so, and thankfully it was empty.

    We barely had enough people to fill half the seats, and went directly to Animal Kingdom. All the bag checks were open so that went quickly. As always, simply paying attention and choosing the right line can make a big difference. Look for a side where people are all standing on the other side of the table, and you can get right in quickly. Its not cutting youre supposed to use both sides. At entry the lines were backed up quite a ways, except at the passholders entry. I sailed right through, commenting to the guy I was surprised there were so few passholders. His reply was right now, lol. My light flashed purple but I didnt get a Welcome Home.

    It was around 9:10 or so by now, so I took a chance looking for low crowds in the Dinoland area. I figured if I could do Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur without fastpasses, I would be free to leave after my safari. At Primeval Whirl the only people in line were a couple entering the boarding area! I joined the queue and a solo woman came in behind me. Her husband was waiting for her, and this was her first time riding this. They seated us together to give more weight to the car, and she loved it but said her husband would have hated it, lol! Just like mine this ride scared SB to death!

    Next I rode Dinosaur, with a short (less than 5 minutes) wait. I had a work issue, so stood with my back against the side wall and took care of that by email during the preshow. There was a bit of a backup in the boarding area, but they only had 1 side running at this point. It was an ok ride, but seemed darker for some reason. In other words, the periods where you could see nothing at all seemed longer. Once I finished up there I took the Asia route to walk over to Harambe, where there was a line to enter the fastpass queue.

    However, the standby queue was backed way up, and at least the fastpass queue kept moving up until the final loading area. We saw lots of animals, including several cheetahs, the baby giraffe, baby elephant, and the male lion. We even had a hippo standing up outside of the water which rarely happens. After the safari I headed towards the exit, as the park was getting more crowded (it was 10:20).

    At the bus stop I was texting with Chris, learning the doctor had said Ari was fine to go to Walt Disney World. A bus driver from the other side came over to ask where I was going, and I noticed his bus said Polynesian and Grand Floridian. He explained hed gone in the wrong lane, lol definitely nice of him to come over to notify me. I had the bus to myself, and it was freezing so I sat in the very back seat. Its marginally warmer back there.

    We stopped at Polynesian first, and I was starting to think I should have just headed to Epcot instead since it was really overcast & not pool weather at all. But, too late now. I got off at my resort and went into the lobby, then decided to talk to someone about the Frozen fiasco last night.

    A manager came to the line at concierge to see what people were waiting for, and when he got to me I said I wanted to talk to someone about something that happened last night. He took me into the lobby and we sat down so he could hear my story. At one point his phone rang and he never once took his attention off me or made any move to check his phone good customer service. He was shocked the manager at Frozen didnt just let us onto the attraction, as that was the reasonable & appropriate thing to do. I thought so too nice to know Im not delusional, lol!

    He asked about my plans for today, and I wasnt really planning any more park time. However, maybe Id head to Epcot later to check out the festival (although Ill be there both Saturday & Sunday) or pop into Magic Kingdom later since its so close. He pulled up my account and I expected to have to make a decision so we could select a fastpass somewhere, but he surprised me. Id told him SB had gone home, so he added 3 fastpasses today and 3 tomorrow to me, Amanda & Ari! These are fastpasses that can be used in any park, at any time even within an existing fastpass window. He said if we went to MK for example, we could ride Mine Train and then get off and immediately go back on to ride again if thats what we wanted to do. So, now we (or just I if Amanda doesnt come up) have 3 more fastpasses I could blow through in 45 minutes time if I want, later today. Then tomorrow I could do 6 things in MK with fastpass, or just do our 3 and then when we go to Epcot later we could do Soarin and other stuff there. Pretty cool, and much appreciated!

    I took a few pictures around the resort, made a pitstop in the studio, then walked over to the Polynesian Village for lunch. The path to get there is very nice, and I think its almost a shorter walk there from the villas than it would be to Gasparilla Grill here! I was headed to Captain Cooks, where I ordered the aloha pork sandwich to go. Once it was ready I took it outside to a table, where I ate half the sandwich and some of the fries. Id ordered to go because I knew Id be taking half back, and forgot it comes in the box containers. I checked out the dole whip place before heading back, finding no line at all but I wasnt hungry for one just yet. I can always come back later or another day.

    Walking back to my resort I passed a wedding couple finishing up a photo shoot across from the beach near the luau site. Her dress was ok, but her hair was horrific dark underneath and bleached on the outside. That seemed odd for your wedding day youd think a bride would want to look her best, but maybe Im old school. Back at the resort I transferred the half sandwich to the container the cookies were in last night, to take up less room in the little fridge. Theres no point in saving the fries, so next time I head out theyll go in a trash can so they dont smell up the studio.

    I spent about an hour sitting outside on the balcony updating the report and watching the monorails go by. At 2 I went inside to watch General Hospital, and then sat through the drama called Dr. Phil. During Dr. Phil Amanda said shed taken Tylenol and was going to make the drive. But, shes scared to let anyone at work find out shes going, since she went home sick (legitimately) today. So, no facebook mentioning her or with pictures of Ari this trip. She wont get in until 6:30-7 so I decided to run over to the Magic Kingdom to ride Space Mountain and wander around a bit. By the time they get here & get moved into the studio, who knows if there will be time to go back over especially since she skipped lunch and will be starving!

    Lucky for me I decided to leave my camera behind but take my umbrella, because when I got off the monorail it was raining! It wasnt a torrential downpour like during summer, but it was enough that people without any rain gear were sopping wet unless they huddled under cover for an indeterminable period of time. I walked over to Space Mountain and was happy to see the fastpass worked! No trouble like last night.

    Space Mountain was fun, and I enjoyed being in the last seat. The rain had stopped by the time I got outside, so I went over and waited in line for the People Mover. It was so crowded there! The park didnt look too crowded, but lots of people were inside I think. Space Moutains standby wait was 75 minutes, and Buzz Lightyear was 40. While on People Mover once we came out of Space Mountain it was raining again, pretty heavily.

    I made my way out of the park, and had to stand in line for the monorail. Once onboard I did get a seat, and made the trip back to the Grand Floridian. I spent a little time in the lobby and enjoyed the orchestra outside of Mizners (overlooking the lobby). Its nice to have live music! After a detour to check out Gasparilla Grills menu I walked back to the studio and waited for Amanda & Ari to arrive. SB called and was headed out to a basketball game, and was glad to hear Ari (little man) was doing well enough to come. Amanda was on Disney property by 6:40, and arrived at the resort around 7.

    It was great seeing her and Ari again, and he was all smiles. Of course, the kid realizes hes at his second home (WDW), so its very comfortable for him, lol. They got settled and I played with Ari. Id brought their magic bands and got the orange one for Ari since his dad wears so much orange. He absolutely loved it, and played with that magic band all night long, lol! He sits up on his own, and is really close to crawling but hasnt quite figured out the movement part. Amanda tried to feed him but he didnt eat much, with being distracted by being here.

    We headed out, pushing Ari in the stroller, and walked over to the monorail. The orchestra was still playing, which was nice. To get to the monorail we have to go inside the main building and then take the little elevator up to the 2nd floor. The monorail arrived as we did, and although it was packed, enough people got off to make room for the guests waiting.

    The Magic Kingdom is the next stop, and we were among the first people off the monorail and down the ramp. Bag check was not busy at all, and this time I was randomly selected for the metal detector first time this trip. Entry wasnt long either. We went to the passholder line but pretty much all the lines had no wait. Our first stop was just beyond the train station, where Ari could meet Mickey inside the theater.

    We used our fastpasses for this, but you still end up waiting somewhat. Ari was intrigued by the light saber a boy behind us had he loves lights of any kind, and these flashed and were different colors. When it was our turn, Ari was still in a good mood and he loved meeting Mickey! When Amanda stood next to Mickey while holding Ari, Ari kept holding onto Mickeys face and smiling. This Mickey talks, and called Ari by name it was really cute. On every previous trip by the time he actually got to see Mickey Ari was pretty much done with the whole thing and either crying or about to cry.

    When we left there we discovered it was raining lightly, so up went the umbrellas. Amanda was hungry and Pecos Bill is the only counter service place giving a discount to passholders so we decided to try there. I havent been in there in many years and Im not sure Amanda has. I took Ari to go find a table while Amanda ordered her food. She got the kids corn dog nuggets, chips & salsa, and red velvet cake. I sat Ari on my lap so he could sit at the table playing with his magic band.

    He started getting fussy towards the end of Amandas dinner so she ate her red velvet cake while we walked towards Fantasyland. By now it had stopped raining again, which was good. I carried Ari, since he wasnt too happy about going back into the stroller. We parked the stroller and used another fastpass for the Pooh ride, which was the first time for Ari. He seemed to really enjoy it, and was busy looking at all the different colors and scenes. Once that was done Ari & I sat on a bench (him playing with his magic band) while Amanda used her last fastpass for Mine Train first time at night!

    By now it was after 9, and we decided to head back to the resort. Amanda carried Ari (hes 18.5 pounds, so heavy after a while) and whenever wed pass a vendor with those light sabers and other lighted toys he would stare at them and then whip his head around to stare some more when we walked past, lol! The boy loves lights. We exited the park just as the Electrical Water Pageant was floating from the Grand Floridian over to the Bay Lake area, so we got to see a little of that. Hopefully well see the whole thing tomorrow, as its one of my favorites.

    The monorail ramp wasnt as crowded as it had been earlier, so we were on the next monorail that came. Back at the resort the orchestra was still playing, and Ari was intrigued by them. We watched until the elevator came, then headed up to the studio. Ari was getting tired, but was still doing well. Hed been up for 5 hours straight, busy touring the Magic Kingdom and the resort and playing with that magic band, lol! Amanda got organized and gave him a bath in the tub, then changed him & fed him. This time he ate a lot, so hopefully hell sleep a good while. It was 11 before this was done, and I was still updating the report since I was also chatting with Amanda.

    She put him in the pack & play around 11:20 and got herself ready for bed, and I finished up the report. Im not usually up this late, but it was worth it! Today was a really nice day, even with the rain. Im very pleased with how Disney corrected the Frozen fiasco, and without that we wouldnt have seen Ari smile at Mickey tonight.

    Tomorrow were headed back to Magic Kingdom for the morning, and then well spend some time at the Epcot Festival of the Arts later in the day including attending the first concert.

    DAY 3 Saturday 1/14/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    Amanda (28), daughter-in-law
    Ari (6 months), grandson

    Plan: Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest lunch, Epcot

    Actual: I think we all slept well last night. Ari woke up just a minute before my phone alarm went off at 5:30, so we all got up then. He ate off and on, and took a couple quick catnaps, but otherwise was smiling & playing. I had my cappuccino, then later took my shower and dressed. While I had my breakfast Amanda showered, then I made her breakfast.

    Ari is really interested in people food now, and Amanda can start introducing baby food now that hes 6 months old (today). She didnt bring any with her, so thatll wait until they get home. It was foggy this morning, but it should burn off by around 10. While Amanda showered Ari &I stood out on the balcony watching the monorails go by he was intrigued, but also enjoyed watching any people walking by down below.

    We headed out the door around 8:30 and once again the monorail arrived just as we did. As expected, it was full, but the Magic Kingdom is the next stop so no big deal. Our monorail arrived just after the express monorail, so there was a huge crowd arriving at the same time. Bag check was backed up and slow they were all being extremely thorough. I think its overkill when theyre checking eyeglass cases and zippered coin purses. Once we got through that, entry was a breeze. Once again mine turned purple but no Welcome Home. The cast member said something, but it wasnt dvc related at all.

    Theyve recently done away with the pre-opening show over the train station, and now guests are allowed onto Main Street and held at the entrances to each land. We arrived down by the castle just before 9, and a cast member came out to open the park. I think Mickey & Minnie joined him, too. It was brief, thank goodness Im pretty sure everyone just wanted to get to their first attraction of the day.

    Wed decided on Small World, and when the first path to Fantasyland (by Sleepy Hollow) was jam packed, we continued into Liberty Square and entered from near Columbia Harbour House. It was much faster! There was a posted 15 minute standby wait, but they hadnt even opened the queue yet, lol! One family went down ahead of us, but we asked to wait for the front row figuring Ari would see everything that way. They load 2 boats at a time, so they sent us to the front row of the 2nd boat. The first boat filled, but we were the only ones in our boat.

    From the minute we entered the first room, Ari was entranced by it all! He was sitting on one of my legs, and with his foot hitting the seat he was able to bounce up and down when hed get especially excited by something. The entire ride he was looking all over the place, bouncing a lot, laughing and talking (infant talk). Amanda was excited to see him so obviously loving it this is definitely a favorite of his at this age!

    Next we walked into the circus area to ride Dumbo another first for Ari. We were going to use one of the free fastpasses, but the guy told us at this point the standby line wasnt any longer so we went over there. He was right. We basically walked right onto the ride. This ride is short, but Ari enjoyed looking at stuff as we flew around on an elephant. We didnt get to see the play area inside, which was ok since Ari is too young for that right now.

    At this point Ari was getting hungry, so we decided to split up. I used a couple fastpasses to ride Mine Train twice while Amanda took Ari inside Tomorrowland Terrace to feed him. Its fairly quiet in there before it opens for the day, and the doors are unlocked. At the Mine Train fastpass entry once again there was a large clueless party who were trying to get in when it wasnt their time, so they clogged up the entrance while the cast member patiently tried to explain the problem. Finally they left, so those of us with fastpasses could enter. I wish cast members would be quicker to get those type of people off to the side, rather than holding up everyone else.

    It was a fun ride, and I was put in the back row the first time and the front row the second time. Both times I rode with someone else from a party of 3. Once I was done I walked over to meet Amanda, where a sleeping Ari had just been put back into the stroller. She went to ride Mine Train and we agreed Id meet her near the exit. We got over there in time to see her on her train. She only rode once, even though she could have gone again.

    We had almost 30 minutes until our Peter Pan fastpass window closed, so we walked over towards the Riverboat thinking we could push the stroller onto it. But, our timing was off and it pulled away just as it came into view. It only runs every 30 minutes, so that didnt work for us. Amanda decided to use a fastpass for Big Thunder, so we headed over there she walked over quickly and I followed at a slower pace so the uneven flooring wouldnt jostle Ari awake. As I got close to Big Thunder, Amanda was coming back. She said the fastpass queue was backed way up, so she said forget it.

    We turned around and walked back towards Fantasyland, stopping in the area across from the Tangled bathrooms when we saw some benches there. We soon figured out this was an electronics charging area, which is a nice idea. While we were there Ari woke up, so we left the stroller in the parking area and joined the fastpass queue for Peter Pans Flight. We had a large family group with wild rambunctious boys behind us they were flying back and forth and were an accident waiting to happen. The parents were just ignoring them. I was glad when they allowed some standby parties in behind us, to get us away from them.

    Next we went to Mine Train for Amandas second ride, while Ari & I waited for her across from Be Our Guest. He amused himself playing with the magic band the whole time. Amanda was off the ride at 11:17, so we parked the stroller and checked in for Be Our Guest. Since wed preordered the food we had no wait to get inside. I paid for the lunch, and we had no trouble finding a table we ate in the room off to the right.

    There were some small high chairs next to our table, so Amanda tried Ari in one of them and he did great. Our food came quickly Amanda had no sooner started to feed Ari when it arrived. He wasnt interested in eating much, even though he was probably hungry. Amanda had the roasted turkey sandwich, which was very good this time. I had the onion soup, which was also excellent. We shared the Masters Cupcake, and that was delicious! Its a small chocolate cupcake topped with lots of grey stuff. Overall lunch was great, which is a good thing after the last time!

    While there Ari took the opportunity to overfill his diaper, so Amanda changed him & cleaned him up before we left. The skies looked threatening, with dark clouds covering most of the area. We started to walk over to do the Little Mermaid ride with another fastpass, but felt a few sprinkles of rain. We decided not to risk it, as we didnt want to come out to find it pouring. We went back to get the stroller and were able to exit through the castle. By then it was definitely starting to rain, and Amanda wanted to get a 6-month picture of Ari with the castle in the background.

    She sat him down on the ground while I held an umbrella over them. She used her cell phone to take the picture, and later noticed Ari was photobombed by a white bird who landed on the ground behind him. Once that was done we began walking down Main Street, and Amanda spotted Marys costume outside one of the shops. We went over there and waited until shed finished with guests and saw us, then visited with her a bit. Ari was all smiles for her it was so cute. I think he likes the colorful costume, although its entirely possible babies just intuitively respond to the really special people out there.

    We were in our fastpass window to meet Mickey again, so we walked over there and parked the stroller under cover like we did last night. The standby queue was 85 minutes, which is crazy that anyone would wait that long! Even the fastpass queue seemed to move slowly. Eventually we were in the room with Mickey and once again Ari loved it and was all smiles and giggles. He has something Mickey pretty much everywhere in his house, so Mickey should be familiar to him. Mickey spent quite a bit of time with him, since Ari was being so interactive too it was really nice! He looked a little crushed when we left Mickey, but he didnt cry or anything.

    It had stopped raining and was mostly sunny at this point, and we headed out of the park. Since we had the stroller we took the monorail rather than the little boat, and once again the monorail arrived just as we did. This time we got off at the Polynesian, where I got a dole whip before we continued walking back to our resort. Ari was getting fussy by the time we reached the elevator, so once we got back into the studio Amanda was able to feed him and then he fell asleep in her arms. Of course once she went to lay him down he sprung to life, lol! He rolled around in the pack & play for a while, then we let him out to play on the floor he has a rubber giraffe squeak toy and the orange magic band. She pumped some milk and mixed up a little cereal for him, but after a few bites he became more interested in blowing raspberries with a mouth full of cereal. We couldnt help but laugh, so maybe that encouraged more of that behavior <g>.

    Amanda was hoping to catch a nap, but Im not sure thats going to happen. She finished her turkey sandwich from lunch and I spent time updating the report. We read over the instructions for the concert tonight and since Ari was not going back to sleep at all we decided to just head over to Epcot.

    We took the monorail to TTC and transferred to the Epcot monorail, with Ari being overtired & starting to get fussy. A family on the monorail with us had a 15-year old daughter who knelt down and started playing with Ari, which got him all smiles again. I know know if she babysits, but her mom mentioned a boatload of nieces and nephews, lol!

    At Epcot the bag check wasnt too busy, but they made all strollers go through the left lane. Then all people in that lane had to be wanded, while people in the other lanes all walked through the metal detector. At park entry my light turned purple again and the cast member said thanks so no dvc welcome. Disney shouldnt have publicized this if the cast dont know to do it!

    Epcot wasnt too busy at the front of the park, and we walked straight over to Innoventions East to pick up our badges for the concert. This is the location where the passholder glasses were given away this past Food & Wine Festival. The badges are stickers, with the date & time of the concert. DVC members and annual passholders were able to book the reserved seating area.

    We headed out to World Showcase, which was much busier. In the beginning it wasnt bad, but later it was as bad as Food & Wine Festival on a Saturday. They have several tent booths set up showing & selling art from different artists. Some of it was Disney themed, but quite a bit was not. There are also some food kiosks nowhere near as many as during Food & Wine Festival, but probably similar to Flower & Garden Festival. The prices were high, so I was expecting the portions to be big, but mostly that was not the case at all (from what we passed). For example, the trio of donut sandwiches for $9.50 were teeny not much bigger than a Dunkin Donuts munchkin cut in half! The $7 chocolate painting on an easel was perhaps 2 inches by 2.5 inches. Most of the items were beautifully (artistically) presented, but were more adventurous than my palate, meaning pretty much everything had some food item(s) I just dont eat.

    Amanda was most interested in the desserts specifically the big artists palate chocolate chip cookie. We wandered through the countries starting on the Mexico side, after venturing into Odyssey. This is the Festival Center, which is small but convenient. They had a guy carving a watermelon into art, and there were several food items for sale. It was also quite busy! As we passed through the countries with food booths we noticed the lines were horrific very long! But, the lines for ordinary stuff like pretzels or beer or ice cream were also crazy long. This wasnt looking good, lol!

    We got to America just before 5 and could see people were already entering the theater for the 5:30 concert. We decided to park the stroller and get our seats, which meant we had to wake up Ari. After entering Epcot hed cried a bit & conked out (thats his usual style when hes fighting falling asleep). I was hoping hed fall back asleep, but no he realized he had stuff to see so sleeping wasnt part of his plan. We got our seats pretty much center stage, a few rows back in the 2nd section. Amanda left to make a restroom break and check out the line for the cookie she wanted (its sold at a number of stands, including America).

    While she was gone Ari looked around and played with his magic band a bit. He really liked the sparkly mouse ears on a lady in the row ahead of us. In fact, he seems to like Mickey Mouse ears in general, which is a sign of his good breeding and the fine job his parents are doing <g>. Amanda returned, and tried out the headphones shed bought for him to use in loud places, but we werent sure hed need it since this isnt a rock concert.

    The entertainers were Ashley Brown, who was the original Mary Poppins on Broadway, and Josh Strickland (not sure I got his first name right), who was the original Tarzan on Broadway. They were accompanied by a fairly large band and sang songs from Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Mary Poppins and finished with a song from the next Disney Broadway musical Frozen. The concert was really terrific her voice was great and his was outstanding! It was an entirely different level of entertainment for this venue, and the audience really enjoyed it. Ari was enthralled for a while, but about 15 minutes in he started fussing a little bit so Amanda got up and left the theater with him in case he really started crying. She stood outside the back so she could still enjoy the rest of the concert.

    After the concert it was mobbed all along World Showcase, and it didnt thin out a bit until France! We didnt even bother to try stopping most places. Amanda said shed suffer through the line at the Decadent Desserts booth, so we headed up there. Thats the spot where they sell desserts & champagne during Food & Wine. Surprisingly, there was no line here! She got the chocolate mousse crunch thing and the cookie. Both were good, but she liked the cookie better. The cookie was the size of a Disney paper dinner plate, with a hole cut out of one end, some colored liquid dabbed onto 3 spots, and a plastic paint brush stuck through the hole. Its an appropriate presentation, and cost around $5 or $5.50. I think the mousse thing was a little higher.

    Ari & I waited for her at a high-top table along the railing, so he was able to sit on my leg and reach the top of the table. He wanted no part of the stroller, so wed carried him since the concert, but once Amanda had her desserts it was time to put him in the stroller to cry himself to sleep. He needed a nap, but was fighting fiercely! He cried well into Future World, but conked out as we approached Innoventions.

    We decided wed take the get off the monorail at the TTC and just walk the rest of the way back, rather than transferring monorails and making all those stops. That would help Ari stay asleep, too. At Epcot the monorail was entering the park as we headed up the ramp, so we had a short wait for it to get to the station. Weve really been lucky with the transportation timing this trip!

    At TTC we walked to and through Polynesian Village, noticing the crowd at the Luau were really excited by the show. I think the fire dancing was going on, but unfortunately we couldnt see from outside. At Grand Floridian I showed Amanda the grand villas from the outside, then we walked over to Gasparilla Grill. Ari was still sound asleep. I got a piece of the chocolate mousse pie and Amanda ordered a chicken and cheddar cheese sandwich with fries. We took it all back to the studio, where I microwaved the other half of my aloha pork sandwich for my dinner.

    After we ate I took the laptop out to the balcony to update the report while enjoying the monorails passing by, while Amanda woke up Ari (he didnt sound too happy about that, lol) for his bath. I was surprised I could hear some of the luau from out on my balcony, lol! I went back inside after 8:30 and Ari was all smiles again. I asked him what all that crying had been, and he just grinned & laughed, lol!

    I got the report posted, and then plan to wander over to the boat dock to watch the Electric Water Pageant at 9:15. Today was a great day its fun having Amanda & Ari here, and Im enjoying getting to spend time with him each month! He really loved Small World, and was so excited on that ride. It was nice seeing Mary too, and Im so glad Be Our Guest redeemed itself. We didnt use all of the fastpasses we had, but we some of the extras and really appreciated them. We werent overly impressed by the Festival, but well see how it is tomorrow morning when it first opens and hopefully isnt crowded. The concert was great, but the rest wasnt worth the crowds.

    DAY 4 Sunday 1/15/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    Amanda (28), daughter-in-law
    Ari (6 months), grandson

    Plan: Epcot, Pool, Epcot

    Actual: Last night as I approached the dock to wait for the Electric Water Pageant, Wishes was just beginning. Id forgotten all about that! They pipe the soundtrack in on the porch of Narcoosees right next to the dock, so it was really nice. As soon as Wishes ended, the Electric Water Pageant came to life. It was enjoyable as always, and once it ended I went back to the room. Ari had just fallen asleep, but Amanda didnt put him down in the pack & play until around 10 when she went to bed. I stayed for about another hour watching HGTV and then I turned in as well.

    I got up at 5:30, made my cappuccino, and spent time online while Amanda & Ari continued to sleep. He started stirring a bit between 6 & 7, but when I finally got up to take my shower at 7:20 he was still mostly sleeping. Amanda was afraid last night that with his late nap hed be up during the night, but if he was I didnt hear anything and I dont think he ever sleeps this late. It was great for her, as shes the one who wakes up with him at home. I could hear Ari awake before I actually got in the shower, so I came out to let Amanda use the restroom first.

    She changed & fed Ari while I showered, then I played with him & got him dressed while she took her shower. We spent time out on the balcony watching the monorails. Amanda was ready just after 8:30 so we walked over to the Polynesian for breakfast at Captain Cooks. The line was long, but all registers were open so we decided to stay & hope the line would move quickly. It was about 10 minutes to 9 these people would already be in the parks if they were smarter, lol! Amanda got my breakfast while I found a table inside.

    There was a high chair on the other side, so I carried Ari over to get it. I was shocked by how heavy that high chair was! Just as I finally got to our table a cast member saw me and came over to assist, lol oh well. Ari enjoyed sitting in the high chair again. Amanda found us over there and we waited for the food to be delivered (it came quickly). I had the Tonga Toast but without bacon or sausage. It was delicious, huge, and I didnt even try to finish it. I did eat the center part, where the banana filling is but Im doubtful that was enough to make it a healthy breakfast <g>.

    Amanda got the kids Mickey Waffles with bacon, and it came with a beverage (apple juice) and a packet of apple slices. Ari saw the apple slices and tried to grab them, so Amanda instinctively pulled them out of reach. I commented that he had no teeth so he couldnt rip the plastic wrapper, and we let him play with it. He loved the crinkling noise of the plastic, and maybe the coolness from the chilled apple slices felt good on his gums. He played with that most of the day, slobbering all over it! Who needs Toys R Us?? Just take your babies to a food court <g>.

    After breakfast we walked over to the TTC and learned the entire monorail system was down. Amanda was hoping to feed Ari on the way to Epcot, as he was hungry and getting fussy. They directed us to the bus stop area, and we were able to get seats on the bus to Epcot before it filled to standing room only. Its a pain dealing with the stroller on the buses, especially when theyre going to be so full. There was a huge line left behind to wait for the next bus, so we were lucky to time it just right and move quickly. She did feed him a little bit on the bus, but as expected he was more interested in looking around and out the window vs being under her nursing cover.

    Ari also seemed tired at home he naps in the car on the way to daycare, but here he was fighting sleep with all he had. He didnt want to be in the stroller, so we carried him more than usual since if wed forced the issue and he did actually fall asleep wed be waking him up for the fastpasses. It was easier to just let him have his way, knowing eventually he would fall asleep and get a decent nap.

    Upon entering the park Amanda was shocked at the long line at Spaceship Earth, when the standby queue said 15 minutes. She said no way that was accurate, and I agreed. Our first fastpass was at Character Spot at 9:20-10:20 and we were well into that window by now. We parked the stroller and went inside, where even with a fastpass you still end up waiting but not nearly as long as the people in standby!

    She fed Ari a little more while standing in line, and we were let inside just after she finished. I was holding him so she could put herself back together, and he started to nod off until he spotted Mickey Mouse, lol! That gave him his second wind, and he was smiling at Mickey even before it was our turn. This Mickey doesnt talk, but Ari didnt care he just liked seeing his buddy. We visited Goofy next, who he also enjoyed, and then Minnie. He seemed to really like Minnie maybe its because shes similar in coloring to Mickey, and shes got those round black ears hes come to like.

    Once we got outside we put him in the stroller for about 6 seconds, but lifted him back out when that was vocally disagreed to by Ari. We had about 20 minutes before our Spaceship Earth fastpass, and if he cried himself into a nap then wed either have to wake him up or skip the fastpass. So, Amanda carried him figuring once on the attraction hed fall asleep in her arms and then she could lay him in the stroller afterwards (shes not usually delusional, so I let it go this time). We browsed in Mouse Gear to pass the time, then parked the stroller over by Spaceship Earth.

    The fastpass line was really long, extending outside the queue and up the side towards Guest Relations! I dont know whether its the holiday weekend or the Festival, or the combination of both but this is nuts! I took Ari and she fished out his baseball cap since wed be standing in the sun part of the time. Its a cute little hat that says Hunk on the front, lol! The older couple in line in front of us got a kick out of it! Because of the backed-up line it took longer than normal to get on the attraction, and Ari was awake the whole time. Yesterday he discovered his shadow for the first time, and is intrigued by that. He is also mesmerized by the pavement in Epcot, even without any shadows, and I have no idea why since its pretty ordinary. Maybe theres a little hint of sparkle when its wet, but thats about it. When I was carrying in this morning, he kept leaning down to stare at the pavement for some reason. It was actually pretty funny, and finally I just laid him stomach down and carried him that way so he was easier to carry while he stared at the ground (with his little feet kicking at times). Weird kid!

    Once we got into Spaceship Earth he enjoyed the tv screen on the car, and at the camera I held him up in front of my face so it was his and Amandas pictures at the end. The attraction slowed a few times, and stopped completely towards the end, when Ari was pretty much getting to the end of his patience. He needed a nap, but of course did not fall asleep during the ride. Once outside Amanda carried him and we stopped at a shady spot along the way to Future World, where Amanda fed him again. This time he fell asleep after eating. We had less than 30 minutes until our Frozen fastpass, so she had to keep holding him until after that.

    We walked towards Mexico, and World Showcase was much less crowded than last night. This is how we like it! Had we wanted to get any of the food we could have done so easily. Likewise looking at the art. I know how heavy Ari can feel, so as we approached Norway I suggested we sit outside the bakery, which is under cover. Amanda had never been in there, so this was new to her. We were able to get to the seating area without going through the bakery, which was even better. There were a few empty tables, so we went to the only 2-top, which only had 1 chair but I dragged a second one over. That way we took up as little space as possible. The tables never all filled up, so we had no reason to feel guilty. Shed never heard of school bread and got to see it.

    At 11;30 we got up and joined the fastpass queue, and this time the fastpasses worked without issue. Ari was still sound asleep in her arms. We were seated in the back row of the ship, and he never woke up while we were sailing through the beginning scenes. Based on how he responded to some of the other attractions, we knew hed really enjoy this, but sadly he need sleep more than he needed a Frozen attraction. During the second half of the ride it was jerky enough that he woke up a couple times, with an expression that said what the hell are you doing to me, Mom?? but then fell right back asleep. When we got off the attraction Amanda was able to lay him down in the stroller without him waking up.

    We walked through the rest of the countries, enjoying the smaller crowd level! She was hoping to find a rice krispie treat for Chris, since he doesnt like her to come home without something for him and he was kind of raised on those here. I wasnt sure where to find one, other than the pre-packaged crappy ones, or down in the Land where we couldnt take the stroller. She wanted to check out the bakery in France, so we stopped in there. The pastries are so pretty! She got a chocolate clair for Chris since he likes those too, and got herself a chocolate mousse. I took over the stroller so she could eat while we walked.

    It feels so weird to walk past International Gateway without exiting there, but sadly were not staying on Crescent Lake this trip. Grand Floridian is nice, but its not like staying around Crescent Lake. We continued on our way through Future World, noting where work was being done on areas (behind fences) for the Flower & Garden Festival. Since this weekend with the 3 of us sharing a studio had gone so well, last night I invited Amanda & Ari to join me for the weekend during my March 9th trip at Beach Club Villas (Crescent Lake snob, lol there for Flower & Garden Festival) and she grinned from ear to ear. Chris chose well, lol! It also gives me more time with Ari.

    Ari was still asleep as we left the park and headed up the ramp to the monorail. This time we had a little bit of a wait, and then the monorail arrived to circle Future World before entering the station. It was standing room early, but we got seats and Ari slept the entire way. We got off at TTC and walked back through Polynesian Village, where Ari finally woke up. Chris called via facetime just after Ari woke up, and was trying to get his attention by making noises. Amanda turned the phone to face Ari, who promptly reached out and hung up on his dad, lol! Amanda said he does that all the time something about the button being read, because Ari aims right for it. We got a good laugh over it, and Amanda did call Chris back to explain. Chris didnt seem surprised.

    As we approached the Wedding Pavilion I noticed the gate was open, and since Amanda had never seen it I suggested we go see if we could peek through the door or a window. I was lucky enough to attend a wedding here years ago, and its really pretty. We got inside the building and looked though the peep hole in the double doors, not seeing anyone inside. I tested the door and it opened, and I saw a cast member inside setting up for a wedding. She was very nice I said we were just taking a quick look and she invited us to come on in. Amanda thought it was beautiful, and I told her to step to the right a bit she then saw the castle through the window where the bride and groom stand. She was glad to see it, but doesnt regret her beautiful wedding in North Carolina if shed done it here theyd still be paying it off!

    Back at the resort she fed him again, but he was too interested in looking out the sliding doors at the monorail. So, she packed up the rest of her stuff and took a load down to the car. She wondered if theyd let her leave the rest at the entrance & pull her car up, so I suggested she ask them this isnt the busy main resort and they seem so nice here. Ari & I played together while she was gone, and when we went outside to watch the monorails I saw her car parked at the entrance.

    When she got back to the room she said they were very nice, and told her to leave the car as long as she needed. Theres no valet parking at the villas, so these are Disney cast members vs an outside company trying to make a buck (or many bucks, lol). She fed him once more, and housekeeping came by to do the trash & towel service. Housekeeping finished & left, and soon Amanda & Ari were ready to hit the road. I changed into a swimsuit & coverup to head to the pool, but walked down with them (carrying Ari one last time).

    Once they were loaded up and heading out I went to the pool, but it was completely overcast. I tried to wait it out, hoping for sun, but finally around 3pm I gave up and went inside. The sun never did come out for long, even after leaving. I had some wine in the fridge, so I got some ice and then took the laptop out to the balcony to update the report while enjoying the wine. I was somewhat hungry, but Id finished the caprese flatbread this morning and had no real food other than 2 slices of bacon. Oh, and most of the chocolate mousse pie from last night. Wine on an empty stomach probably isnt the best idea, but I dont have to drive anywhere!

    Earlier Id mulled over plans for later today. If Epcot is going to be mobbed again, then dealing with crowded monorails & waits to get over there starts sounding really unappealing. At the same time, Ive been to Magic Kingdom twice this trip and would need to deal with the monorails for that. Ive always said, staying at a resort for the monorail is NOT a plus, as theyre a real pain in the butt during busy times! If I was staying at Beach Club or Boardwalk Id absolutely walk over to Epcot and enjoy myself no matter how crowded, but its a different ballgame coming from way out here by the Magic Kingdom.

    Eventually I decided to take a bag to the car and then head towards Epcot. I went to the Grand Floridian bus stop and saw the Hollywood Studios bus was due in 2 minutes, at 4:52. It arrived right on time, or maybe a minute early. It was freezing, so I sat in the back row again. The only other passengers were a man and his son or daughter. At Hollywood Studios the bus parked in the area where buses go to other parks, which was great for me since the next step in my journey was to walk to Epcot. I took the path over to Boardwalk and then to International Gateway. I have to admit it felt like coming home, lol! International Gateway was wonderful no wait at bag check or entry, and the bag check guy didnt feel the need to check every little thing. I entered the park and was in America before the 5:30 concert began not bad! I didnt expect it to take so little time. The theater was basically full, with people 3-4 deep standing outside in the back. I even had time to get some napkins from inside Liberty Inn before the concert started. The only available spot of wall around the fountains had what looked like dried bird poop, so I used the napkins to sit on.

    The concert was the same as last night, and I imagine each of the 3 concerts all 4 nights are the same. I sat for the first half, then stood outside the theater for the last half, since some people had moved on. When the last song finished I was ahead of the crowd. Overall the festival was much less crowded than last night, although still fairly busy. You could buy food without ridiculous waits, and you could still browse the art. The weather was ideal, too I was comfortable without a jacket but wouldnt have been too hot if I had worn one.

    I took my time going through the rest of World Showcase, stopping to take pictures several times. The sky was pretty after the sun set, although there were a lot of clouds. I cut through Odyssey, where the food line was a standstill with people waiting for the pizza to come out. I was hoping to see the pop tart to see what size it was, but nobody had one and nobody in the long line was moving so I gave up. I wasnt thinking of buying one, but was just curious.

    I walked through Future World and exited the park, then headed up the ramp to the monorail. I had the longest wait of the trip this time perhaps 10 minutes or so. By the time it came the waiting area was packed, but since I arrived early I was close to the entry & got a seat. The cars were all standing room only. I got off at TTC and walked over to the Polynesian, planning to try the pork fried rice at Captain Cooks. However, when I got there the line was worse than this morning, and they only had 2 cash registers open. The queue was completely filled in and spilled out into the hallway and partway down the hall. I initially joined the line, but when it didnt move I got fed up and left. I wasnt about to wait 30 minutes in a line to get dinner! Or so I thought, lol more coming.

    I continued walking to Grand Floridian, and went to Gasparilla Island Grill. They werent too busy here, and the line was one family ahead of me just the way it should be! I ordered the kids burger, which comes with fries, grapes and a small drink (bottled water for me), and specified to go. I paid at the register and got my number so theyd know where to find me to bring the food. I sat at a table that happened to be next to the family ahead of me in line, and after their food was delivered I figured I must be next. So, rather than sit at a table I soon got up and stood where the food people would see me before entering the area with the tables. I waited and waited, watching lots of food & specifically lots of burgers being delivered to tables.

    At some point I was probably looking as annoyed as I felt I think around the 25-minute point of waiting. A nice young man delivering food saw me and said he would check on my order when he came back. He did, and returned to tell me it was the next one coming up. He asked if I wanted a cookie or treat while I waited, but I said no thanks since its coming up next and I shouldnt be waiting much longer. My burger was up next, and when he brought it over he also brought one of the big Minnie Mouse cupcakes in a container. He told me it was beautiful, and he didnt know if I liked chocolate I replied who doesnt like chocolate? lol! The kids meal cost $6.99 and the cupcake was $5.59 so that was a nice gesture on his part. It certainly took away my irritation of wasting 30 minutes of my life waiting for a kids burger when I might have gotten the pork fried rice I originally wanted if Id been willing to wait that long!

    I took the food back to the studio, and took pictures of the burger and the cupcake. The burger was small but plenty for me. The fries were a smaller portion of well, so I didnt have to throw away so many. The burger was surprisingly good I would definitely get it again! The cupcake will go home, since Im leaving tomorrow and once I cut into it Im not sure itll travel well.

    Tonight Wishes is at 10, so I dont plan to be at the other end of the resort to watch it again. Ill walk over for the Electric Water Pageant at 9:15 and call it a night after that. Today was another really nice day for the most part. Ari was a little challenging for a bit, when he needed a nap but was determined not to succumb and miss anything. With such a short trip for Amanda, sitting around the resort hoping hed sleep there wasnt an option. He's a good baby, and did just fine. After they got home his dad pushed him in the little red car his cousin Ethan (our 8-month old grandson from SBs daughter & her husband) got him for Christmas, and Ari was still clutching his orange magic band, lol!

    Tomorrow I head home, and its not likely Ill be heading anywhere before hitting the road. I thought about the outlets or Disney Springs, but wish they both opened by 9 instead of 10. Ive got a lot of work to do on the photos, and have plans to go out with SB when he gets off work at 3:30, so I dont want to get home too late. For now, Ill enjoy one last night in this studio my first night solo!

    DAY 5 Monday 1/16/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member

    Plan: Park or Disney Springs, Drive to Gainesville

    Actual: At 9 last night I went outside and could hear the Electric Water Pageant. Silly me forgot that Polynesian Village is right next door, and it starts there at 9pm each night. I was able to sit on a bench right outside the villas and watch the back side of the pageant, which is very much like the front side <g>. When it ended I walked over to the dock, which wasnt very busy tonight. There was one (of 5-6) benches full of people, and a guy or 2 standing. I sat on a bench but when it started a minute or so later it was better to just stand up since the posts on the dock would have blocked part of it. A handful of other people came to watch, but I guess without Wishes also happening this isnt a big draw. Oh well, I love it and enjoyed seeing it twice in 15 minutes! I hung around after it ended, as the floats sailed over to the Magic Kingdom and lit up as they passed there. The next stop was the Bay Lake area, where it would be out of my sight.

    I walked back to the studio and changed into one of the bathrobes they have in the rooms here, then went out onto the balcony with the laptop, phone and a glass of wine. I went through the photos and deleted anything blurry or too duplicative while watching the monorails pass by. At 10 I could hear the fireworks from Wishes but couldnt see anything. At 10:15 I could hear the Electric Water Pageant behind the Contemporary! It wasnt loud, but I recognized it and could hear it clearly when monorails werent passing.

    Finally at 10:45 I dragged myself inside Im not usually even up this late, but it is just so nice here. I slept well, getting up around 5:30 again. I enjoyed my cappuccino while doing stuff online, and then went through the many photos to select the rest for the album. Around 7:30 I started uploading them, while eating a greek yogurt and the last 2 slices of bacon for breakfast. By now it was light outside so I opened the blinds to watch the monorails going by.

    I ended up working on the photos here, including captioning them all before finally taking my shower around 8. The public link to the album on shutterfly is

    I finished packing up and was on the road by 9. With stops for gas, Kohls and to pick up lunch for SB, I was home shortly after noon. This is one of the big advantages to living in Gainesville. The other is its only 4 hours to Hilton Head.

    This turned out to be a really great trip, despite a couple hiccups and the initial uncertainty over whether Ari (& Amanda) would be well enough to make the trip. The resort is beautiful, and if it was in a better location Id want to stay here more often. Relying on the monorail is a real negative, as its not as convenient as youd think. Its not possible to walk to any park from here, and quite often the monorail lines are ridiculously long, even in non-peak seasons. For us it made more sense to walk to/through the Polynesian to catch the monorail at TTC when going to Epcot, as riding past Magic Kingdom and then transferring was a huge pain.

    The resort itself is gorgeous, and I definitely felt a higher level of customer service here vs the other deluxe villa resorts. An example was the guy last night who gave me a cupcake for having to wait. Another example is the bell services gentleman who told Amanda to leave her car parked at the entrance as long as she needed. At Beach Club they treat you like youre a problem if you want to leave your car to run in & get your room number! The live music by the orchestra is delightful, and something you dont find anywhere else. If only all of this was on Crescent Lake it would be perfect, lol!

    The parks were definitely busy, but thanks to fastpass we were able to do what was most important to us. The rest doesnt matter were here often enough to not have to spend most of the day in the parks! Even though we were at Magic Kingdom on a Saturday, it wasnt the nightmare it was the last 2 times (November & December). We decided wed do it again in March.

    Touring with Ari was even more fun this time, now that hes more aware of everything. He absolutely LOVED Small World, and was captivated and excited the entire time! He also was thrilled to see Mickey Mouse each time, smiling and reaching out to him. Hes a lucky baby to be growing up coming here so often (without it being just day trips). He turned 6 months old this trip, and so far hes stayed at Jambo House (spending time in the concierge lounge), Beach Club, Boardwalk, Old Key West, and Villas at Grand Floridian. Now hell start repeating resorts, but next December hell be at Polynesian concierge thanks to his other grandma!

    The Epcot Festival of the Arts was nice enough, but the food was weird to me and more overpriced than usual. The concert was excellent, however! Also, the art I saw on display looked really nice for the most part. We werent really enthused by the artist who used dead leaves, and had signs saying please no photography. The only reason we would have taken a picture would be say what the heck???, lol!

    My next DVC trip begins March 9th, with 4 nights at Beach Club Villas for the Flower & Garden Festival. Normally I try to do 5 nights but Ill be back less than 2 weeks later for the 5th night, followed by a 7-night HAL cruise. SB should be with me for the first night, then Amanda & Ari will come in for the 2nd and 3rd nights. Ari will turn 8 months old on that trip, and itll be his 6th trip (the first one repeating a resort)!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

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  3. #2

    Woot! Another Sue report!!! I love reading your reports!

    I don't think you were in the wrong to complain about her deleting the fast pass. I probably would of said something too but guest services was top notch for giving you the extra FP for the next couple of days.

    Your relationship with your daughter and grandson is so wonderful to read. Your family just seems to get along so well. I can't wait to "watch" Ari grow over the years. He's already got me beat on trip to WDW. Haha!

    Also, SB cracks me up. My husband is exactly the same. When I remind him that I told him something specific he will tell me that I didn't say it in a way he could remember. You're a grown man! I've actually had to buy him clothing replacements on a number of vacations because he just completely forgot to pack an item (a bathing suit for Hawaii, a nice dinner jacket for NYE in Las Vegas, underwear multiple times, etc...).

  4. #3
    DVC Member KJSJpipe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Havertown, Pa
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    Sue, how small are the rooms? We are a Family of 4 and always stay in a studio with no issues we have stayed at - SSR, OKW, BLT, WLV, BWV(or BCV?). Would we have an issue do you think? Maybe I'll put that stay off until just DH and I go for our 25th Anniversary.


  5. #4
    MousePlanet Columnist
    Join Date
    Apr 2001

    Husbands are an interesting breed, aren't they?? lol Nice to know mine isn't the only one!

    Katrina - the studio may be similar in size to the others overall, but since the bathroom is so big that extra space comes out of where the bed and sofa are. Also, storage space consists of 2 tiny drawers in the one nightstand, and a few shelves in the closet. There aren't drawers under the bed like at Poly, and no dressers with drawers. I don't know where 4 people would put there stuff! Amanda lived out of her suitcase, since she was only there 2 nights.

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

  6. #5
    DVC Member KJSJpipe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Havertown, Pa
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    Hmm, sounds like I'll wait till it's just the two us then. The space probably would be okay but I'm not suitcase living for 10 days!


  7. #6
    Registered User
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    Aug 2012
    Drexel Hill, PA

    Great report as usual. It's fun reading about Arizona and how fast he is growing up. It's great that your family is close enough to go with you so often

  8. #7

    As always I enjoyed your TR! So nice that you were able to spend time with Amanda and Ari at Disney World. Sounds like he is becoming a true Disney aficionado at a young age One of our DVC home's is the GF and we always enjoy our stays there. We also own in the Beach Club (I'm commenting from there right now) and enjoy the proximity to Epcot. I guess both resorts have their own pluses! Look forward to hearing about your upcoming trip.



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