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Thread: Sue (Holland) Rayford, Treehouse Villas July 12-14, 2019

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    Sue (Holland) Rayford, Treehouse Villas July 12-14, 2019


    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    SB (61), husband
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (almost 3), grandson
    Martha (50s), Amandas mom
    Other Saturday guests not staying at Treehouse Mathew, Carla, John, Ciara
    Dates: July 12 14, 2019
    Resort: Disneys Saratoga Springs Resort Treehouse Villa
    Experience: Very Experienced 1st stay in a Treehouse for everyone

    Sometime last year Amanda told me she wanted to do Aris 3rd birthday at Typhoon Lagoon (the day before, so hed still be free), and hoped we would attend. Although were only 2 hours away, I am NOT a fan of driving 4 hours in a day, but we wanted to be there since we didnt go down (8 hours round trip) for his last birthday. Im not one to go to Disney without a resort stay involved, and being a dvc member its easy to book something that would accommodate everyone. Since none of us have park access (and Id shoot myself before Id head into a park in FL summer weather), I decided this was the perfect opportunity to finally stay in a Treehouse!

    Years ago, when I first saw the treehouses, they were just a dream too expensive for a 1-2 person party, and not dvc. Now, theyre perfect for this trip. SB & I will take the master (of course she who pays for the points gets the prime spot, lol), Chris & Amanda can share the bedroom with a queen bed, and Ari & Martha can share the bedroom with bunk beds. I mentioned it to Amanda, who I assume learned Martha was fine with that. At 7 months I had no problem booking the treehouse these dont seem to book very far in advance for some reason. The location worked for us, with our only plans being Typhoon Lagoon and perhaps Disney Springs. I can see where it would be a crummy place to stay for a park-intensive trip.

    Since I took care of the lodging for the group, Chris & Amanda booked us all at the (relatively) new Storytime dining dinner at Wilderness Lodge (formerly Artist Point). Its gotten good reviews, although honestly most of it I wont eat. I figured no big deal SB would just get double the portions, but now hes actually taking his diabetes seriously and eating fairly right, so it may end up going to waste. Theres always Chris, though (and maybe a doggy bag)!

    Were planning to grill Saturday night, so hopefully there wont be late afternoon thunderstorms to interfere with that! Chris & Amanda are bringing up most of the food from a place near their home, and will make a trip to the Publix over by Premium Outlets. Friends of theirs are expected to join us for Typhoon Lagoon and grilling. Hopefully parking and access to the treehouse wont be an issue. If it rains, I dont know how the hell well fit 10 people inside a Treehouse with only a sofa and 2 chairs we need nice weather to be able to spill out onto the deck/porch! Sunday we all head home, and none of us have park access (again, not that Id want to be in a park in this heat/humidity), so Im not sure there are any plans to do anything. Its been exceptionally busy at work, so I may end up going into the office Sunday afternoon.

    The plans so far are:
    Friday 7/12: Drive to WDW, Storytime Dining
    Saturday 7/13: Typhoon Lagoon, Grill
    Sunday 7/14: Drive to Gainesville

    DAY 1 Friday 7/12/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    SB (61), husband
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (almost 3), grandson
    Martha (50s), Amandas mom

    Plan: Drive to WDW, Storytime Dining

    Actual: I went into work early and was ready to leave by 11:15, putting us a little ahead of schedule. After a brief stop to get SB and load the car, we were on the road by 11:30. Some of you have laughed over his trip attire being NOT what Id expected (dress shoes when were headed to Epcot, for example). Well, hes wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I asked if he was sure he wanted to wear jeans in this terrible heat/humidity, but he said he did. I pointed out that I only packed 1 pair of shorts for him, since I figured Sunday he could decide between that pair or the pair he would be wearing today but he wasnt concerned. To be fair, hell go away for a week and practically wear the same outfit most of the days I think its easier to pick something up off the floor than go into the suitcase! On the drive I realized he was wearing sneakers and socks. I asked if hed brought a pair of flip flops but he had not. I packed his swimsuit when he said he may go to the pool, so hell wear sneakers with that. But, I didnt pack any socks because I figured hed be only wearing flip flops this trip. Sometimes you cant win, lol!

    Just after 11:30 I got the text that the treehouse wasnt quite ready, but then Chris called to say they were in the treehouse! When we got off the phone I could see the text with the room number. They put Ari down for a nap, and he was still asleep when we pulled in around 1:30.

    The treehouse is really cute, and not as tiny as I had heard. They no longer have furniture that looks like it was made from twigs and logs. I took several photos, and posted them on facebook. We got settled in while the other adults made a trip to Publix. Ari woke up just after the left, and hung out with SB & I for a while. Hes a bundle of energy, and SB continues to be a bad influence <g>. Ari gathered up throw pillows from the living room to start the torpedo game, but SB warned him hed get in trouble with his mom!

    Ari & I went out for a walk, visiting the boat dock, bus stop, and pool. The boat dock is right around the corner from our treehouse, and through the trees we can almost see it. The pool is decent, but no frills. Theres no snack bar and no slide, but thats to be expected since it only serves a small number of units. I grabbed some pool towels to take to Typhoon Lagoon tomorrow, as Im not interested in renting towels there and didnt bring beach towels. While at the pool Ari ran, and then he tripped and fell. Fortunately the only bleeding was from a scrape on his arm, which we patched up with a bandaid.

    Along the walk home he picked up 3 pinecones, wanting to show Grandpa. Back in the treehouse Ari showed the pinecones to SB and then we set them on a table in the living room. When the others got back from Publix we put the groceries away, then everyone but SB went to Disney Springs. Aris other grandfathers on Chris side had sent a birthday card with a Disney gift card inside, so we were heading over for Ari to shop for a toy.

    SB decided to stay back at the treehouse, where he was watching Wimbledon. With his jeans, he would have been miserable, so its just as well. We went to the boat dock and rode the boat over to Disney Springs. When we disembarked they told us to get back wed have to use the other boat dock over by the Boathouse and Paradiso 37.

    We meandered around, first checking out Once Upon a Toy, then picking up chocolate samples at Ghiradelli, then going into World of Disney. In there he found a spiderman in a plane, which also shoots something and I think can eject spiderman. The line to check out was ridiculous, and they hardly had any cast members working at the registers. There were plenty walking around, but thats it. The cashiers had no personality at all, either we might as well have been at Walmart! Finally after about 30 minutes in line we were out of there. Ari was very happy with his purchase!

    We walked through the rest of Disney Springs, stopping into a couple stores briefly, then headed to the return boat dock. The boat was arriving as we approached, which was great timing. The ride back was nice, but felt warmer than the ride over. We went back to the treehouse and Ari showed SB his new toy. Before long, hed shot the white things at SB and one went down behind the headboard of our bed and landed on the top of the baseboard. SB thought to use a broom, so we located it for him and he was able to retrieve it.

    Around 6:15 we drove over to Wilderness Lodge, taking both cars. With the new road pattern near Magic Kingdom, Chris missed the turn to Wilderness Lodge so we had to use the u-turn to return to Magic Kingdom. Luckily wed left enough time, so it wasnt an issue. Chris dropped Amanda, Martha & Ari off at the lobby before going to park his car at the charging station. We parked our car and then all met up in the lobby. Amanda went to the front desk to get Ari a birthday button.

    We checked in at the restaurant, but they couldnt find the reservation. Chris had booked this months ago, and for whatever reason it was showing under my name. With that resolved, we were asked for a phone # so they could text when our table was ready, saying they were running 15-20 minutes late at this point. We went to Territory Lounge, where most of us had a drink. The server brought Ari a special cup of birthday water with a color-changing light up ice cube. He loved it!

    When the dinner text came, Chris & Amanda went to get in line to be seated, while we flagged down the server. Martha treated everyone, which was very nice of her. We joined the Hollands and were taken to a great table. We could see the evil queen from our table, and her facial expressions were priceless!

    When Snow White was announced, Ari was so excited big grin, clapping & cheering! She came quickly through the restaurant, but would start her rounds of posing for photos a bit later. We ordered our dinner here everyone gets all 3 appetizers, all 3 desserts, and the entre of their choice. I went with the chicken, which ended up being absolutely excellent!! SB ordered the beef stew, which he loved. It wasnt a traditional gravy-based bowl of slop. Chris had the land & sea, Martha had the beef stew, and Amanda had the chicken. Ari had the kids chicken & potatoes.

    The appetizers were a mushroom bisque, which the others seemed to really like, giant shrimp cocktail, and some sort of lunchmeat-type thing with flatbread crackers. I only tried the lunchmeat (chicken) and it was really good. The shrimp was some of the biggest Ive ever seen, but I dont eat shrimp. The 3 desserts were a cake thing in a shotglass (outstanding), chocolate mousse apple coated in red sugar (ok) and gooseberry tart (very good).

    Between the entre and desserts our server advised since the line for the evil queen was very short, we should go now. Earlier when Snow White approached our table, it was just after the appetizers had been delivered, and Ari was hungry. He did NOT want to take time away from his food to meet the lady hed been so excited about earlier. He put his head down on the table and refused to look at her. Later Dopey came around, and Ari did the same thing. It was so weird.

    When Grumpy came, I guess Ari wasnt still hungry, because he was totally into meeting Grumpy and wanted to get out of his chair to do so. He even came over and grabbed SBs hand and Chris hand to get them up to get into the photo. When we got to the evil queen Ari had been coached to stick his tongue out at her, but got shy at the last minute. We took turns getting pictures with her, with SB & I going last. She commented that we obviously have disdain for each other since we dont all pose for a photo together. I told her if she knew the others shed understand why, lol.

    Dinner was on Chris & Amanda, so thank you to them! It was a wonderful meal, and a fun experience. Its not something Id do often, but its definitely worth doing at least once. It definitely exceeded my expectations. We headed out and returned to the treehouse, where Ari had a bath and then played for a bit. Their friends John & Ciara stopped by to drop off stuff theyd brought for tomorrow. Eventually Ari got sent to bed, Martha went to take her shower, and the young adults left for Disney Springs. I guess thats what you can do when you have 2 grandmothers and a grandpa on the trip <g>.

    SB was watching the Twins game on his laptop in the master bedroom, so I joined him with my laptop to get the report finished up. I checked on Ari one last time before Martha got out of the shower. Theyll be sleeping in no time.

    Today was a great first day! We all really like the treehouse, and its nice to have everyone together to celebrate Aris birthday. Tomorrow will be Typhoon Lagoon and then grilling at the treehouse should be fun!

    DAY 2 Saturday 7/13/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    SB (61), husband
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (almost 3), grandson
    Martha (50s), Amandas mom
    Mathew & Carla, Amandas brother & his fianc
    John, Amandas best friend
    Ciara, Amandas friend

    Plan: Typhoon Lagoon, Grill

    Actual: I think SB & I were in bed by 10:30 last night, and it didnt take him long to fall asleep. I was awake a bit longer, but the room was nice & quiet. The ceiling fan is stuck on high speed, and the maintenance guy would have had to go get a ladder and parts to fix it (adding the cord that someone had yanked off) but Id told him not to bother for our stay. He was there because Chris had called when they got into the treehouse and found the plate on the band reader on the door was missing, and one of the lights over the kitchen island was burnt out. Thankfully even with the high speed fan it was very comfortable sleeping in there.

    I got up at 5 and went out to the living room. Last night Id put the water in the coffee maker, so I just had to hit the button this morning and the hot water was created while I brushed my teeth. I took my cappuccino over to the sofa and got online for a while, enjoying the quiet time while everyone else was sleeping. Amanda had posted a bunch of pictures from dinner last night (on facebook), so it was fun seeing those.

    By 6:30 Amanda, Ari & Martha were up, and Ari came in to lay on SBs back & roll off of him onto the bed. I made breakfast for SB & myself, and we ate at the dining room table with Ari he had a hard boiled egg Id brought. Amanda and Martha waited for Chris, who Amanda woke up around 8:15. Amanda had brought the decorations and party supplies, so she got that all organized so later she could decorate.

    SB stayed back to watch Wimbledon, but the rest of us headed out just after 9. Its a good thing, as it took almost an hour to get to Typhoon Lagoon, lol! The bus was not at the bus stop so we decided to walk over to Saratoga Springs. What we didnt know is the path brings us into the Grandstand area but then to get to Typhoon Lagoon we have to catch a bus from the Springs area. We should have continued walking there, but we got on the first bus, then learned that rather then being the next stop, Springs was the last stop. At Springs we got off and waited for the bus to the water park, arriving just a little before 10.

    The good thing is everyone else was already there. As we walked up to join the others, Amandas youngest brother Hunter stepped out of the bushes to surprise her! Hed flown down from the Outer Banks last night, to be here for Aris birthday. Ari was excited to see him, too! In addition, we learned that Amandas friend Ciara had booked a cabana. Those include 6 people, so the others paid $25 to be added.

    We had to buy tickets, and the line was excruciatingly slow. A 1-day ticket is $69 but with the DVC discount its only $49 (plus tax). Since Martha & I are both members, and the discount is good for the member and up to 5 guests, she & I each bought enough tickets for everyone to get in. Ari was still free, since hes not 3 until tomorrow.

    Once in the park we had to go check in for the cabana, and a cabana cast member walked us over to ours. Included in the rental are refillable mugs for everyone (good only today), a cooler full of ice and bottles of water, all the towels we want, a locker in the cabana to secure our stuff, cushioned chairs, a roof, and shed get us whatever food or beverages anyone wanted to order.

    We got settled, then it was time for the others to hit the slides. I dont care for water slides, but I took my camera with me so I could take photos. First stop was the Crush n Gusher, which is like a roller coaster water slide. Ari is too short for that, so he, Chris & I waited for the others in the exit area. They were all laughing and smiling so they must have liked it! A family raft ride was next door, so they did that with a 15 minute wait already. According to Chris, Ari screamed (not a happy scream) the whole ride, and the selfie Amanda took shows her laughing and Ari terrified, lol! But, when asked if he wanted to ride it again, Ari kept saying yes. I dont think they did, as there were other things to try.

    At the section where Humunga Kowabunga (the slides that drop you into the water) and the 3 curvy water slides, Ari was much happier. Hes done many Disney resort slides and loves them, so he was eager to do these. He came down smiling, and immediately wanted to do it again. Once everyone was down, some of them went back up for another ride. During the time it took, some of the guys went next door and rode Humunga Kowabunga 5 or 6 times.

    We continued walking, through the cave, and eventually came to more raft rides. They got in line and I decided to take the camera back to the cabana. Carrying it around, I couldnt really do anything. It was a pretty long walk back to the cabana, and I realized I wouldnt make it back to where Id left them by the time theyd be finished, so I trusted wed find each other at some point.

    I locked up the camera, drank some ice cold water, then wandered around for bit. The horn sounded to signal the half-hour of bobbing waves was beginning, so I headed into the wave pool and enjoyed that! The big waves are too much for me, but I love the smaller ones. Eventually I brought a little sand chair over to the waters edge and sat there for a while it was really nice.

    When I went back to the cabana everyone was there starting to eat lunch, so I joined them. Amanda had made sandwiches this morning and brought them in a cooler. Im not a sandwich fan, but some of them were on that Hawaiian bread slider buns, so I had a delicious little spicy turkey sandwich/slider. Shed brought several little cans of pringles, too. I stuck with my water, but the others used their refillable mugs and then later several ordered cocktails when our cabana person stopped by.

    By 1pm Amanda was wanting Ari to take a nap somehow, but that seemed tough to do with so much fun stuff around, and all the people. I decided to head back to the resort & check on SB, figuring hed be hungry and wouldnt have tried to find his way anywhere to get food. The trip back was faster the Saratoga Springs bus was waiting at the bus stop (I was the only rider), and then at the Springs stop (the only stop) it was just a couple minutes until the Treehouse bus arrived. Once again, I was the only passenger.

    SB was hungry, so we drove over to Saratoga Springs, parking at the Carriage House (in the Springs). At Artist Palette he decided on the Rueben, and we were able to substitute cole slaw instead of the potato chips. While he waited for that to be ready, I went to the front desk and found a nice cast member willing to put helium in a Moana balloon Amanda had brought. Thats the theme for Aris birthday, as it was his favorite movie for a long time. His swim trunks are Maui (the male character), and his shirt is themed in that style.

    Once the balloon was done I joined SB, who decided to eat his sandwich there rather than take it back to the treehouse. The Rueben looked really good Disney does a nice job with those! We drove back to the treehouse, and he watched more tv while I took my shower and then caught up with online stuff.

    It was nearly 6 before the others left Typhoon Lagoon, and they didnt get back to the treehouse until after 6:30 maybe even 7. Ari never did nap at the water park, but fell asleep as soon as they got on the bus. He fussed when Chris put him down into his bed, but fell back asleep. The adults took turns getting their showers, and we decorated for Aris birthday party.

    Eventually they needed to wake Ari up, which is never pleasant. When hes woken up, hes miserable, and today was worse than normal. He pitched a fit and sat on the floor of Chris & Amandas bedroom crying his eyes out eventually we just ignored him & let him work through his misery, and it didnt last too long.

    Soon the others arrived John & Ciara first (they drove from the Hilton), and later Mathew, Carla & Hunter arrived by boat from Disney Springs. Theyd bused there from Coronado Springs, where theyre staying. We had drinks and Chris & Hunter fired up the grill outside, then cooked dinner for everyone. We had plenty of room, since the table inside seated 6 people, and the coffee table in front of the couch could handle a few more. SB and I sat out on the porch at the table for 4, and we ate out there, along with Ari and then Amanda. It was a little humid, but pleasant enough to be out there. Its such a peaceful place to stay if youre not bothering with the parks.

    After dinner it was time for birthday cake, which was a lemon cake in the shape of Mauis hook in the Moana movie. Ari has a toy version that lights up. The cake was very good, and made by a friend of Amanda or Martha who does cake decorating as a hobby. After that Ari opened his gifts, excited over each one. He got lots of cool stuff, and then the big gift was brought in a new bicycle, with training wheels. Hes a big boy now!

    We hung out a bit longer, then people started to leave somewhere after 10. Mathew, Carla & Hunter left first, taking the boat back to Disney Springs. Eventually it was discovered that Mathew had Johns car keys, so they got back on the boat to the treehouse to return Johns keys, and John will drive them back to Disney Springs. Ari got his bath, and that was my cue to turn in SB had already drifted into the bedroom a little bit earlier.

    Itll be 11 before Ari gets to bed, so may sleep a bit later than usual. Ill still get up early and enjoy my quiet time. Today was a terrific day Ari had a blast at Typhoon Lagoon, and I enjoyed being there too. Having the cabana made a huge difference for such a big group. The birthday dinner/party was fun for everyone, and Im glad I was able to provide the setting thanks to Disney Vacation Club!

    Tomorrow we all head home, which means we need to pack up our stuff. This trip has gone by way too fast!

    DAY 3 Sunday 7/14/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    SB (61), husband
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson
    Martha (50s), Amandas mom

    Plan: Drive to Gainesville

    Actual: Happy Birthday to Ari, and Happy Bastille Day to the French! Once again, we slept really well, and I got up a little after 5 to enjoy my cappuccino in the living room. The others had done a great job cleaning up, and youd never know that less than 12 hours ago there was a birthday party with 11 people going on in here!

    SB was up a short time later, and I took my shower & dressed around 7. I also packed up some of our stuff. At 7:30 I made us breakfast scrambled eggs and 1.5 italian sausages for SB, and the other half of the sausage in a bun for me. The sausages were leftover from last night, and I dont think Chris & Amanda eat them. SBs blood sugar numbers were higher than normal yesterday, due to all the bread, chips, and cake, but not too crazy for a 1-day break from the routine. Today hes doing mainly protein, since he sees what the carbs do to him. It was worth it though, for Aris birthday.

    The others were up around 8:30, and everyone got busy packing up the rest of their stuff except for Ari, who peeled a hard-boiled egg and sat in front of a Muppet Babies show on tv. The life of a kid! SB took his shower, then we hung for a little bit before SB & I hit the road. John was coming by to get some of Chris & Amandas stuff, or bringing over something of theirs, and this way hed be able to park easier. We said our goodbyes and SB & I were on the road by 9:30 getting home at 11:30 thanks to no traffic today.

    After I got home went into the office briefly, then worked on the photo album. As expected, other than the treehouse pictures theyre mostly Ari <g>. The albums on Snapfish at

    This ended up being a nearly perfect trip perfect would have been if it was sunny and 75 degrees at Typhoon Lagoon (not possible this time of year). After decades of wondering what it was like to stay in one of the treehouses, it exceeded my expectations! We loved that it was like being in your own home, not attached to any neighbors. We werent particularly loud, but it would have been tough having 11 people gathered for a dinner party anywhere else. SB loved that parking was closer than it is at the Boardwalk, lol! He also loved that he just got to relax so much.

    The layout of the treehouse and the dcor was perfect for our group. I liked that there was room for everyone in the bedrooms, so the living/dining/kitchen was free. That let me get up early and spend time out there with my cappuccino. Typhoon Lagoon was a good choice for Saturday, and Ciara renting that cabana just pushed it over the top! Having Hunter fly in to surprise Amanda was really special hes a great young man, and SB enjoyed spending some time with him Saturday night (previously theyd only met at Chris & Amandas wedding briefly). Ari LOVED Typhoon Lagoon and is pretty fearless when it comes to the water slides.

    The Storytime Dining dinner was a highlight, for excellent food, service and character interaction. The Evil Queen was outstanding her facial expressions alone made it a great experience. Im glad we got to do this! Dinner Saturday night was also outstanding the burgers Chris & Amanda brought up from a restaurant butcher shop near home are just unbelievable. Nothing else comes close, but theyre just so big! Ari & I cut one in half to share, and SB still had to finish my half.

    Hopefully well do another weekend trip at the Treehouse Villas at some point, when the parks are in the plans. We all loved it there, but I wouldnt stay there on trips where Id be going to Epcot for Food & Wine or Flower & Garden, so that kind of limits when Id possibly book another treehouse stay. I doubt the next stay can match this one for greatness, since we did so many special things & had the whole birthday celebration going on.

    Our next trips seem to involve airline flights me to Boston in early August, then SB to Minnesota later in the month. Chris, Amanda & Ari will also be flying to Boston later in August Aris first flight. Well all be back in time for the Jambo House/Kidani Village trip that leads into Labor Day weekend, although as usual the only one there for all of the nights is me. I guess that makes sense since theyre my points <g>! Until then, thanks for reading along and for the birthday wishes expressed for Ari. Hes one lucky little boy!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

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    What a fun surprise to see a report from you this morning. What a great way to celebrate Aris birthday. A nice relaxing weekend with family time. Thanks for posting



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