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Thread: Sue (Holland) Rayford, Jambo House, Aug 28 - Sep 1, 2019

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    Sue (Holland) Rayford, Jambo House, Aug 28 - Sep 1, 2019


    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    Holli (mid 50s), co-worker friend
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson
    Dates: August 28 Sept 3, 2019
    Resort: Disneys Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House club level and Kidani Village
    Experience: Very Experienced 29th stay at AKV

    This is the annual trip leading up to Labor Day weekend, where I always stay at Jambo House in a club level (concierge lounge) studio. Getting one of the 5 possible studios has become insanely difficult, and 11 months prior I tried several days in a row and watched the (apparently) only studio disappear out from under me by 1 second after 8am. Day after day after day. I was bummed, but eventually members who must have been walking reservations more successfully than me canceled the nights they didnt need, and I ended up with Wed/Thu/Fri in a club level studio. I had a regular studio booked for the rest of the nights (Sa/Su) and booked Chris/Amanda/Ari (the Hollands) into their own regular studio for 4 nights, Fr/Sa/Su/M). That was the original plan, which of course is not the current plan.

    I kept checking for any additional club level nights to become available, but as expected, they never did. At 7 months I noticed a 1-bedroom at Kidani was available. The 1-bedrooms there have a second bathroom, so I could put the Hollands in the living room and wed each have our own bathrooms. I could also use OKW points (the least desirable) and save some of my AKV points, so I made the switch changing the Hollands reservation to just 2 nights (Fri/Sat), canceling my Jambo House regular studio and booking the Kidani 1-bedroom (savannah view of course wont do standard view) for Sat/Sun/Mon nights. My logic was since I have to check out of my club level studio Saturday and be homeless, I kept the Hollands studio so I could stash my stuff there rather than with bell services. Well have access to the concierge lounge that night, and I can just walk to Kidani afterwards. They can either spend their last night at Jambo and move over early the next morning, or sleep at Kidani and leave the Jambo studio empty that night. They can figure that part out. Fortunately, I have enough DVC points that I have the luxury of double booking a night like this. That was the second plan, which is very similar to the final plan (this last portion hasnt changed).

    At 33 days before the trip, a co-worker friend (Holli) and I went to a little French bistro and had a great time just drinking wine and eating cheese/charcuterie for dinner. SB was out celebrating his birthday with 9 of his co-workers at a different restaurant. I got to thinking that Holli would really like the concierge lounge offerings something SB tolerates but he always asks me to get him real food from Mara @@. Since hes flying home from a trip to Minnesota the day before this trip, I asked if he was still planning to come over and he said he preferred to stay home. Thats fine with me no point being here unless you WANT to be here! To further seal the deal 10 days before the trip he agreed to work a shift for a co-worker, on 8/29. So, he definitely cant change his mind now (not that I thought he would). I canceled him out of the fastpasses, so maybe somebody else got lucky!

    Im not interested in sharing my room with anyone (sharing with SB is bad enough, lol), so I checked the dvc availability and was surprised to find a savannah view studio at Kidani Village available for the first 2 nights. I contacted Holli, pitched the idea to her, and she loved it! Unbelievably, shes never stayed in a Disney resort (typical of Florida residents). I booked the studio, and told her shed still have access to the lounge Friday night. She asked for a recommendation of somewhere offsite to book for that night, and I looked up the Baymont/Wyndam just down Sherberth Road just 2 miles from AKL. There, they had a government rate of $70 for a king bed room with free wifi and free hot breakfast. She booked it. Then she asked about spas, thinking shed treat herself to a massage so I sent her the info for Coronado, Grand Floridian & Saratoga Springs. In the end, she decided to use the spa money to redo her bedroom. Shed recently ended a long-term relationship, and the new look doesnt remind her of her ex.

    Holli will not have park access, but thats fine were doing this as a relaxing resort trip with lots of wine, cheese & nibbling other food. I dont think she has any idea about the savannah/animals, although Ive told her the resort is beautiful and theres stuff to do/see. At 31 days prior to arrival, knowing thats the deadline for members to cancel a reservation without penalty, I checked again and a savannah view studio was available at Jambo House! I modified her reservation, so now she wont have to walk over from Kidani Village to use the concierge lounge. I cant wait to see her reaction when we walk into the lobby its a far cry from the Hampton Inn level places we stay when traveling for business, lol! Our priority is definitely the concierge lounge, and its disappointing that so many of the interesting/adult activities are late in the afternoon at both Jambo House & Kidani Village. It would be nice to have some in the early afternoon, leaving us free to secure our lounge table by late afternoon. Oh well, first world problem for sure!

    This time of year it is hot, humid, and miserable. If I was coming on a solo trip Id skip the parks entirely and just enjoy the resort and the air conditioning (like Im doing the first few days with Holli <g>). This trip has the added factor of Galaxys Edge (Star Wars land) opening on the 2nd day, so most likely everything is going to be even more mobbed than usual. I have about as much interest in anything Star Wars as I do in having surgery without anesthesia, but I know Chris & Amanda are fans (as are millions out there). We did the opening day at Pandora (another land I have no clue about or interest in) and Im not going to repeat standing in line in the hot weather to simply enter an area to stand in more lines to do nothing of significance.

    When the fastpass window opened I was disappointed to not be able to book Flight of Passage during the first half of the trip, when SB would have been there. Thats certainly an indicator of the crazy crowds to expect! Thursday since I couldnt get Flight of Passage I booked the relatively lame Navi River ride, getting that for 8am. The earliest safari was 10:10 so I grabbed that, thinking we may just do it standby earlier assuming the standby wait is short. I hoped to be out by the pool between 9 & 10, but now since Im not likely to bother with the park the pool is a sure thing! I wasnt able to shift the Safari time, so for now its still out there as a just in case thing. I did drop SBs fastpasses.

    Friday would have been SBs last day, and Food & Wine Festival started the day before, so we planned to head to Epcot. I booked Soarin, then figured wed hit the food kiosks early, then maybe Spaceship Earth on the way out but now that SB wont be there, itll be a resort day for me (unless its rainy or cloudy maybe) and definitely concierge lounge that evening. The Hollands will arrive this evening, but probably late (during desserts). Hopefully theyll get to meet Holli, and she can see Ari again (2nd time).

    Saturday the Hollands & I decided to brave the insanity thats probably occurring at Hollywood Studios, with extra extra magic hours starting at 6am. The unknown factor is Ari assuming we wake him up, hell be grumpy and irritable, but such is life. We may have to suffer through that. I was able to book us Slinky Dog for 8:15, thinking we could do Alien Saucers (Aris favorite) and Toy Story via standby before that. We also have Star Tours at 7, but I dont care if we actually do it or not. After Slinky Dog Ill head back to the resort, since I need to check out at Jambo House and then check in over at Kidani. The Hollands can stay at the Studios, and they have a FP for the Frozen Singalong attraction. I might go to the pool, or I may just hang out in the air-conditioned concierge lounge until my Kidani villa is ready. That night is our final concierge lounge evening.

    Sunday we booked Magic Kingdom early they open at 7 for resort guests. If the Hollands havent moved over the night before, theyll move over early this morning. We have fastpasses for the morning, then will escape for the hot afternoon. Sunday night should be Food & Wine.

    Monday we have Epcot fastpasses, planning on spending some time there early in the day, then later in the afternoon/evening. Tuesday we all go home me before dawn so I can get to work, and them later.

    The plans so far are:
    Wednesday 8/28: Drive to WDW, Concierge Lounge
    Thursday 8/29: Animal Kingdom (probably not), Pool, Concierge Lounge
    Friday 8/30: Epcot/Food & Wine (probably not), Pool, Concierge Lounge
    Saturday 8/31: Hollywood Studios, Pool?, Concierge Lounge
    Sunday 9/1: Magic Kingdom, Food & Wine
    Monday 9/2: Epcot, Food & Wine
    Tuesday 9/3: Drive to Gainesville

    DAY 1 Wednesday 8/28/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    Holli (mid 50s), co-worker friend

    Plan: Drive to WDW, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: Work was actually pretty calm and productive today, which isnt always the case. Holli & I were out of there at noon, went home to change & load our cars, and were on the road (her following me) by 12:14. It was an easy drive, and we pulled in to Jambo House shortly after 2.

    Wed both gotten the dreaded your room is not quite ready yet message during the drive, so we decided to just head to the concierge lounge. One of the cast members working the front desk recognized me (he works in the lounge normally) and asked if I was staying upstairs. When I replied yes, he came out from behind the desk to take us up to the concierge lounge. The cast member there also knew me from last year, and while checking in he filled me in on the changes since last year. They now do a couple soups and bread service during lunch, which is a very nice addition! Today the soups were butternut squash and my favorite the coconut curry chicken.

    My studio wasnt ready, and neither was Hollis, so we sat in the lounge and had a glass of wine while nibbling on the food. I had some of the soup, and she had some of the bread service with hummus and the goat cheese spread. She loved it all. Soon her text came with her room number. Wed just sat down with our food, so we ignored it. Mine came by the time we finished, so we checked out mine first and then went downstairs to hers.

    Im on the pool side, first room. I actually like this one because the connecting door is by the entrance, rather than in the sleeping area. Its much quieter than some of the other rooms. Holli is on the Arusha savannah, just around the corner from the lobby. There were several zebra and a couple other animals out there when we arrived. I showed her around the room, then we headed out to tour the resort.

    First were the outside viewing areas, which were quite HOT this time of day. There were animals out there, but they were all smart enough to be huddling in the shade. Next we went to the pool area, and talked to a new cast member from Namibia out by that viewing area. I showed her the restaurants, bar and gift shop, then we went to a few of the outside stairwells. She really likes the resort, and loves how Disney themes everything to the nth degree.

    We stopped by the lounge just before afternoon tea ended. I had one of the scones I like, and she may have gotten a butterscotch brownie. From there we went to our rooms to get settled. Once I unpacked I went back to the lounge to secure one of the few 2-top tables. Most tables have seating for 4, and I figured the seats will probably be needed by others.

    Tonight the chef is making a duck confit thing and the fufu macaroni & cheese. They also have ham & cheese pinwheels and chicken nuggets, along with all the usual stuff. One of the cheeses tonight is the soft sweet one with cranberries, so Im looking forward to that. Before I came out to the lounge I checked the local weather and learned Dorian is now expected to be a category 3 and Florida is still in the middle of the cone. Its looking highly unlikely that Ill get to stay for this whole trip, but its too early to know for sure. Hopefully if the projected impact stays Monday morning (or moves back later) I can at least stay through some of Sunday.

    By 5 the lounge was quite busy, as expected. However, I never saw people standing because they couldnt find a seat. The food was great tonight, and Holli absolutely loved it. She prefers eating this stuff vs a normal dinner, so it was right up her alley. Shes more adventurous than me, so she ate more different things and loved them all. She tried the duck confit and we both had the fufu mac & cheese (good, but too much cheese). We both liked the goat cheese w/cranberries but we loved the andouille sausage with the combe white cheese that was fabulous! Holli drank red wine and I drank white, and we stayed in the lounge sipping and nibbling until just after 7.

    We went downstairs to check out the viewing areas, but there werent as many animals as I normally see. The feeders were empty, so either theyre feeding the giraffe earlier or later than Im used to. We saw yet more zebra theyve been everywhere so far this trip! We also saw quite a few white bearded wildebeest, some ankole cattle, but the giraffe were few and distant.

    I suggested going over to see Kidani, so we walked over there and had better luck at their animal viewing area. Quite a few people were out there, too. Its amazing how much smaller the lobby is over there, compared to Jambo House! Before we left I showed Holli the tapestries with the name of the founding members and she immediately found my name I was looking at the wrong one <g>.

    To get back to Jambo House, the bus stop signs indicated a bus was due in 1 minute and was actually accurate so we rode back. We got up to the lounge just after 8, and the desserts and cordials were already set out. Holli tried each of the cordials kahlua, corvassier, gran marnier & amarula. Of them, she didnt care for the gran marnier and loved the corvassier (spelling may be wrong). The desserts change as the night goes on, which I hadnt really realized since I usually grab a few things and return to my room. Tonight we spent the entire 2 hours in the lounge, so I noticed new things coming out.

    I enjoyed an orange sesame cake that was light and delicious. Later I got us both an almond chocolate cake topped with chocolate icing and a raspberry it was good. I tried a butterscotch brownie, but didnt finish it because it was too sweet. We both had a chocolate mousse tart that was light and the hit of the night. They also had rice krispie treats, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and lemon cake cones.

    We realized about 10:15 that the food had ended and been put away, so we retired for the evening. We may go check out the Riviera models tomorrow afternoon, and may find each other at the pool in the morning. Hopefully Holli will have some animal viewing from her room, too.

    I checked the weather and its still looking crappy, so Ill continue to watch it. I expect a decision at work will be made by Friday at the latest, on opening the emergency command center. Ill need to be there then, so hopefully its as late as possible. Holli will need to be there too, but she goes home Saturday so its not a big deal.

    Today was a great start of the trip the resort is wonderful, the rooms are comfortable, and we both really enjoyed ourselves in the lounge and wandering around the resort(s). We had no rain today, which was a nice surprise. Tomorrow is another relaxing resort/lounge day cant wait!

    DAY 2 Thursday 8/29/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    Holli (mid 50s), co-worker friend

    Plan: Animal Kingdom (probably not), Pool, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: It was a late night last night, since I hadnt kept up with the report during the day. I think it was 11:30 before it was finished and sent out, even though it was a pretty short one. At that point it was lights out and I slept well in the very comfortable room. I didnt bother setting an alarm, and got dressed when I woke around 5:15. While getting ready to walk, I listened to the local weather news on the hurricane, and then headed out to do some walking in the hallways. This is so much more pleasant than walking outside in the humidity!

    By 6:15 I was back in the studio, where I made my cappuccino and got online. The lounge has coffee ready by 6:30 but the food items start at 7. Today Star Wars Galaxys Edge opens over at the Studios, and I saw (online) people were arriving by 3am and there was already a 4-hour wait. I cant even imagine wanting to subject myself to that!

    Just after 7 I went to the lounge and was surprised to find no other guests there. One of the cast members told me I was the first person of the day, and when I asked where everyone was they said Galaxys Edge, lol. Im not a fan of the breakfast offerings here, as I prefer cooked eggs & bacon. I took a bagel and toasted it in my studio, and that was breakfast.

    Around 8:30 I went down to the pool, having to stay outside the gates until they opened up at 9. I spent the time on various work calls, then did some work stuff through the internet on my phone. With this hurricane approaching, I know its just a matter of when I need to be back there, but at least now I was able to check in with my managers to make sure everyone was on track in terms of being prepared.

    The pool area was very nice, and more comfortable than I expected. Quite often clouds would pass over, and there would be a slight breeze to cool things off. I lasted until about 11:30, and coming inside I ran into Holli getting off the elevator to go to the pool. We chatted briefly, and agreed to go check out the Riviera models at Saratoga Springs later.

    I stopped by the lounge and took a bowl of the mulligatawny soup thats my other favorite here. Chris texted, and it looks like well all plan to leave Sunday morning. Theres little doubt the parks will be closed Monday & possibly Tuesday, although Disney still hasnt said anything. I took my shower & got dressed, then took a look at the dvc member website. It showed a concierge studio available for Saturday night, so I decided to call them to see if I could cancel the Kidani Village reservation (Saturday for 3 nights) & not have the points go into holding, and then add the Saturday night here to extend my stay. As expected, theyre experiencing higher than normal call volume right now my expected wait time on hold was 35 minutes. Yikes.

    Eventually that time passed, and I was able to cancel my Kidani Village reservation and the cast member would manually fix the points so they wouldnt go into holding status. Id seen a club level studio available for Saturday online, but by the time the person was on the phone it was no longer available, so I booked a savannah view studio. Ill have to move, but I can stash my stuff in Chris studio and then roll it to mine when its ready and well still have concierge lounge access that night. Finally, I inquired about Friday night for Holli, so I booked that and she no longer has to move offsite to the Baymont.

    When I finished those arrangements, I met Holli in the lounge, where shed just finished having lunch. She raved about the butternut squash soup, saying its the best shes ever tasted. She may have tried some of the mulligatawny as well. Up to this point shed been drinking the red wine, but that would change later.

    We headed out to the parking lot and I drove us over to Saratoga Springs to see the model rooms for the new Riviera Resort. We were checked in and told the tour would begin at 2pm just 8 minutes away. Nobody else arrived, so it ended up being a private tour. The cast member took us through the Copper Creek models first, and I was not really impressed. The 1-bedroom villa in particular was tiny very cramped. When we got to the Riviera, the 1-bedroom villa was much more spacious, and very nice! We also saw the studio, which is what I have booked in March. Overall I really like the rooms at Riviera, and dont plan to ever stay at Copper Creek. I carried my camera with me and didnt take a single picture couldnt believe I forgot to do that.

    As we opened the door to leave, it was raining. The cast member ran over to the main building to get us umbrellas, and came back with 2 basic black umbrellas and told us we can keep them. They were very handy, as it was pouring and we would have gotten soaked getting to the car. Thats just another nice Disney touch! Since it was raining I didnt bother stopping to show Holli any other resorts (Boardwalk area had come to mind), so we drove back to Jambo House and sat up in the lounge for a while.

    Just before 4:15 we went downstairs to Jiko for the culinary tour. A cast member there explained about the restaurant and then we sampled their various breads and 4 sauces/spreads. Holli was amazed how great they all were. I liked some of it, but Im a picky eater. Next we were brought over to Boma, where another cast member talked about that restaurant and walked us through. It ended with samples of their mushroom soup (I dont eat that), which everyone else enjoyed, and then a zebra dome for each person. I took that, figuring Holli could have 2 that way. I never liked them in the past and tried a small bite in case my tastes had changed, but the rest went to Holli. Overall it was a nice tour, and lasted about 30 minutes or so. The tour is free, and no reservations are required.

    We went back up to the lounge, and it was surprisingly uncrowded perhaps everyone was still at Galaxys Edge <g>. Tonight the chef was preparing the chicken corn chowder and the pork short rib. I had a short rib, and Holli enjoyed both items. They also had the bbq meatballs, which are very good. We had different cheeses from last night, but many of the other items remained constant. Holli tried the chenin blanc (white wine) and loved it so much more than the red, which was a surprise to us both. From that point she stuck with it and she plans to look for it at Total Wine back home.

    Towards the end of the dinner period one of the cast members offered us various specialty cocktails they make. I still had some chenin blanc in my glass so I stuck with that. Holli tried one that was jungle juice in the bottom half of the champagne flute and sangria in the top half. She said the flavor from the jungle juice floated up into the sangria, even though visually it looked like there were 2 distinct and separate liquids in the glass. She liked it.

    At 7 we went outside to view the animals, and tonight saw a few more giraffe along with the many zebras. There seem to be so many more zebras this year for some reason. We also saw a bunch of waterbuck wandering over. After spending time at the Arusha Rock area and the area by the pool, we walked over to Kidani Village to see more giraffe. We got back to Jambo House a little after 8, and got some desserts.

    Tonight they had lemon bars, which were very good. I have a couple in the fridge for Amanda, but it looks like well see them again Saturday night. They also had chocolate cake cones, which are small ice cream cones filled with chocolate mousse and topped with real whipped cream. They were delicious, and I put one aside for Ari for tomorrow. There were guava cheesecake as well, and they were Hollis favorite she loves guava. She took a couple back to her room to have with breakfast tomorrow. The other items were brownies, rice krispie treats, cookies, apple slices w/caramel, and vanilla tarts.

    We called it a night around 9:30 and I went back to the studio and finished up todays report. Im eager to see the 11pm hurricane update to see if theres any real new information yet.

    Today was a great day nice & relaxing, and it was really nice not bothering with the theme parks at all. Were both loving the resort & the lounge cant top this. Tomorrow should be another relaxing day, and Chris/Amanda/Ari will arrive late afternoon looking forward to seeing them!

    DAY 3 Friday 8/30/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    Holli (mid 50s), co-worker friend
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Plan: Epcot/Food & Wine (probably not), Pool, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: I slept well again last night, waking up for good around 5. I checked the hurricane track, then dressed and did my walking inside the building. Back in the room by 6, I made my cappuccino and got online. At 7 my fastpass window for the main Food & Wine trip opened up, so I was able to book those. Unfortunately, Chris & Amanda arrive later and I wasnt able to get them included, so well see how that plays out. I need to make sure theyve renewed their passes too, as that might be the problem. In the end, I was successful getting Flight of Passage and Slinky Dog for the days when Tiana will be joining us.

    The lounge was not busy at 7:30 when I went out to get breakfast, with just 1 table occupied. People really are heading out to the parks early I guess. Today they had biscuits w/sausage gravy, so I got one of those and tried a guava fan. Id never tried guava before, and in a little turnover pastry it was pretty good. I wouldnt go out of my way to find them, but I didnt dislike them.

    Just after 8 I got dressed and went down to the pool. Before settling on a chair I walked over to the animal viewing area and was surprised to see a giraffe, some addax and a couple other animals. It used to be that this time of day they were all at their barns or somewhere other than the savannah.

    I again waited on a chaise lounge outside the pool until it opened, and then took the same chair as yesterday. Today it felt a bit warmer, so I did spend some time IN the pool to cool off. I lasted until about 11:30 and went upstairs to shower and get dressed. Once that was done I met Holli in the concierge lounge for lunch. We had some soup and other nibbles, along with a glass of the chenin blanc. They had a cucumber salad that was good, as one of the today items.

    Amanda texted just before 1 to say they were getting on the road, but were going to have to stop to charge the car at some point. Were supposed to get rain by late afternoon, so I hope they dont arrive in a thundering lightning storm.

    Around 1 or so Holli & I decided to venture out to tour some Disney resorts. We took the bus to Animal Kingdom, then transferred to the Boardwalk bus. Shed never seen this area and didnt even know it existed. We toured the Boardwalk, and I pointed out many of the theming details for her. From there we did the same at Beach Club, then Yacht Club before finishing the loop back at Boardwalk. We checked out the model rooms there, and she really liked them although Jambo House is her favorite so far.

    From there we took a bus back to Animal Kingdom, then transferred to the resort bus & were back in the lounge by 3:45. The afternoon tea offerings were not impressive rice krispie treats, brownies & granola. I like sweets, but would like to have other choices too. Holli & I hung out in the lounge and checked the latest hurricane updates. It looks like our day to be impacted is now Wednesday.

    Chris dropped off Amanda & Ari to check in (hed forgotten to do it online) a little before 5, and Amanda texted when they were in the lobby. I went to the railing to drop down her magic band, and when Ari saw me he pointed to the floor next to him and said Grandma come down here, lol. Once Amanda got their room (waaaaaaay at the end of a hallway she & Ari hiked back and came up to join us in the lounge. Ari was excited to see me and ran over to climb on my lap and give me big hugs it was so great, and made me feel so good <g>.

    The food had come out so we got went up to get something to eat. Tonight they had mealie dogs (corn dog nuggets), ham & cheese pinwheels and watermelon chunks. The 2 new cheeses were both great, and the chef foods were a tomato soup with paneer cheese and the beloved buttered chicken both were excellent.

    Chris arrived shortly, and we all had a great time. Ari is extremely talkative, although its hard to understand everything he says. He ate some apple slices with peanut butter and tried a few other things. At times hed climb on my lap, and Holli commented that he really loves me probably the best thing a grandmother can hear, especially being a long-distance grandma.

    The buttered chicken was fabulous Holli loved it too, and Amanda was excited to see it since she knew thats what wed had on Friday nights for the past few years (happy it hadnt been changed out). The lounge never got as busy as it normally would, especially for a Friday of a holiday weekend. But, that was good for us and good for the cast members cleaning up after everyone!

    Around 6:30 Chris, Amanda & Ari left for Animal Kingdom, where they did a very long safari. Evidently the giraffe decided to stand in the road, and once they were finally cleared the ankole cattle and wildebeest did the same. Whats normally a 25-minute safari lasted 45 minutes. They picked up their car and drove back, meeting us in the lounge between 8:30 and 9.

    After the evening food, Holli & I went out to the animal viewing areas. Pete called, so I talked with him for a bit while we watched the zebra and other animals. Holli took more photos and videos of the zebra. This is such a great resort, but having concierge lounge access is what puts it over the top. Staying here and seeing the lounge but not being able to get in would be a negative for me.

    She & I headed back inside just after 8, and waited for the Hollands to arrive. Tonight one of the special desserts was a smores tart Id never seen before, and it was great! They only had one tray, so once that was gone they brought out Hollis beloved guava cheesecake tarts she was thrilled! Ari ate a rice krispie treat and the lemon cake cone, and wanted more but his parents said the rest had to wait until tomorrow or he wouldnt be able to get to sleep. I talked with him and agreed to bring him a chocolate chip cookie and 2 rice krispie treats to the park tomorrow morning.

    At 9 they did bedtime story time, which consisted of one of the concierge cast members reading a story to the 4 kids in the lounge. It was a nice touch. Afterwards Ari joined us back at the table and around 9:30 we parted ways. Holli was very appreciative of this trip, and one big benefit for her was the discovery that as a solo/single person she can travel and enjoy herself. She loved the Disney details, touches, resorts, etc shed come here as a kid, but those were day trips since they lived an hour away. Doing it that way is really a disservice, as you miss the best things about Disney if youre not staying here in a nice resort.

    Amanda texted me a picture of their room number, which is quite far down the hallway, lol! I returned to the studio and finished up the report, knowing I wouldnt get much sleep tonight. Amanda wants to leave at 5am to drive over to Hollywood Studios, for the 6am opening, and I said what the hell ok. I think our first fastpass is at 7am, lol early for sure! Ill move my stuff to their room before we head out, but should be back by 11 to officially check out and check back in (from the concierge lounge). If it wasnt a Saturday, Id consider checking out Food & Wine Festival in the afternoon but Im not willing to sweat to death over there when its mobbed.

    Today was another great day. I really love the resort only trips, and enjoy not having to bother with the parks. Spending time with Ari & his parents is always fun, and Holli immediately fell right into the group everyones very easy going. Ari is an absolute delight, and Holli was quite taken by him. Hopefully her sons (the oldest one is 30) will give her terrific grandkids in the relatively near future.

    Tomorrow is Hollywood Studios and the Galaxys Edge madness along with Toy Story Land. Itll also be the final concierge lounge evening how Ill miss this in the months to come!

    DAY 4 Saturday 8/31/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Plan: Hollywood Studios, Pool?, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: After a brief sleep I was up at 3:30 to get ready for the day. The things you do for your kids/grandkid, lol! I showered, dressed, then had a small cup of cappuccino while getting online. By 4:40 I finished packing up my stuff and was at Chris & Amandas studio by 5. They are REALLY far away not many rooms are farther.

    We made the trek back to the lobby and went out to the car to drive over to Hollywood Studios. That way Chris could finish charging the car and we didnt have to deal with the buses. The charging spots are very conveniently located, so we got a great parking spot. Entry was very quick & easy, and we were held up at the end of Hollywood Boulevard to wait 30 minutes for the 6am opening. Chris got something from Starbucks, since it was right there.

    At 6 cast members up ahead slowly walked everyone over to Galaxys Edge, which is quite a long distance. They have it set up so everyone enters at one end and exits at the other, to keep the traffic flowing. The area is much larger than we expected, and can hold a lot of people. Pretty much everyone was in line for the Millenium Falcon Run thing, although some lined up to get something to eat. We looked through the various shops and walked around for about 20 minutes, then exited into Toy Story Land.

    Ari was excited to see that area, and had been telling everyone he was going to ride Slinky Dog. We kept asking him if he was sure, but he was all excited and eager to ride. We first rode Alien Saucer Spin, with no wait thats one of his favorites. We could have stayed on for more, but decided to try Slinky Dog. This had a 5-minute standby wait posted, but it was actually shorter. Ari rode next to Chris, and Amanda & I were behind them. Ari hated it!! Chris thinks that first big drop did him in, as hes too young to realize hes not free-falling down to the ground. After we got off he kept saying he didnt like Slinky Dog, and when asked if he wanted to ride it again he gave an emphatic No. Well see when hes a little older.

    Chris & I rode again, since there was no wait, and Amanda & Ari watched & waved to us. Next was Toy Story Midway Mania, which also was a walk-on with no wait at all. Chris had the high score, as usual. When we finished up Amanda asked if we could ride again and they said yes. They had us get out of the vehicle and stand to the side for a minute before loading us in from the exit side. At that point it was probably only a little after 7 or 7:30, and wed gotten so much done.

    We did more shopping, and then decided to join the standby queue for Millenium Falcon Run. The wait was posted as 75 minutes, but we were walking out the exit about an hour later. The queue area is long, and the inside part reminded us of Star Tours somewhat. I dont watch the movies, so I dont know what any of the stuff is, but the others did.

    The attraction takes 6 people at a time, with 2 serving as pilots, 2 as gunners, and 2 as engineers. Its kind of like Star Tours except youre flying the spaceship. Chris and Ari were the pilots Chris had the ability to turn us left or right and Ari had the job of making us go up or down. Amanda and I were gunners shooting stuff by hitting a button when it flashed. A couple guys from Caracas were the engineers.

    Ari was looking forward to being a pilot, and he kept his hand on the throttle, but the noise and action spooked him and he was crying. He was very happy to get out of there when it ended! Fortunately, these bad experiences dont traumatize him for any period of time hes still ready to do the next thing.

    We stopped for Amanda to get some of the blue milk, which is not milk at all its like a fruit slushie. We also looked in the shops where they sell the Galaxys Edge shirts, and specifically passholder ones. Chris & Amanda each found themselves a shirt. Chris took Ari to the Lightning McQueen attraction/show, and Amanda & I met them there. I got a call on my work phone, where the governor was looking for information (within the next hour) on what weve spent thus far on hurricane stuff. Ive been gone since Wednesday, but know whats going on, so we were able to take care of it by phone. When Chris & Ari came out we let Ari make a pressed penny of Lightning McQueen, and then we headed for the exit.

    Ari was tired, since hed been up so early, and fell asleep before we got back to the resort. We stopped in the lounge, where breakfast was still going on (it was about 10am). I had half a bagel, and then a couple pieces of banana bread that they brought out when the blueberry muffins were gone. The others had a bunch of things they liked, and Chris really liked the turkey boboti.

    While they were eating I checked with the concierge to see if there might be a studio thats ready now. She could see the room I was assigned to, and housekeeping hadnt gotten there yet. There was another that housekeeping was in, but she said it was really far down the hallway. She was going to tell housekeeping that I was here and waiting, but Ive been through that before and it doesnt seem to speed things up <g>. She showed me on the map where the almost ready room was, and its close to Chris & Amandas. I told her Id take that one its only 1 night, and SB isnt here to bitch about the long walk plus moving my stuff from their room will be pretty easy.

    After breakfast we went down to their studio, where Ari got ready for his nap (I think they may have all napped). I got my computer, left my suitcase real close to the door, and then walked back to the concierge lounge. No sooner did I set my stuff down on the table did I get the notification my room was ready! So, I walked back down and discovered my room is even further down the hall than theirs the concierge was not kidding! If I think of it, Ill have to check how many steps it is one-way (Im curious). I made a quick trip back to their studio, slid my suitcase out the door, and dropped it off in my studio.

    There really isnt any point in unpacking, since Im just here overnight. I took the laptop again and walked back to the lounge, where I spent time online. The soups today are butternut squash and the coconut curry chicken, which made me wish I hadnt bothered with the half a bagel just recently. Hopefully Ill get some later. Theyre planning to go to Epcot for Food & Wine Festival once Ari wakes up from his nap, but Im unsure whether Ill go. Part of me would like to, but I HATE the front entrance of Epcot, dont like sweating to death, and dont want to trudge around if its raining. Usually Saturday is a nightmare in terms of crowds, but with this hurricane things seem less busy then normal.

    The lounge was steadily busy, with lots of people enjoying the offerings. I got a glass of wine around 12:15, and ate some of the spiced nuts. Around 12:45 Amanda texted saying Ari was awake, but Chris was still sleeping. She & Ari came up to the lounge for lunch. Ari loves the chocolate chip cookies and while we were in the Studios this morning he ate a couple Id put aside yesterday. Hell have to grab a couple more while theyre out.

    Chris was in the lounge by 1:30 and we all hung out for almost another hour. He had some soup and other food for lunch, then they left to meet friends of theirs at Epcot. The rain didnt materialize but since the feels like temp was 100, I decided to just stay put in the air`conditioned lounge. I packaged up some chocolate chip cookies for Ari, figuring Id drop them on their kitchen counter next time I went downstairs. I got a small bowl of the coconut curry chicken soup for my lunch. It was delicious, as always!

    I spent more time hanging out in the lounge, but around 3:30 packed up and dropped the laptop off in my studio. After a quick stop to drop off Aris cookies, I walked back to check out the animal viewing areas. It had rained while I was in the lounge earlier, but it must not have lasted very long. The usual animals were out, in their usual places. Overall Im still seeing far fewer giraffe than normal. The animals are fun to watch, but theyd be more fun if it didnt feel like 100 degrees outside.

    Eventually I went back inside to get the laptop from the studio, then headed up to the lounge just before 5. Once again, it was not busy for the opening 1 other table, plus a table of people whod been on a feeding frenzy pretty much all afternoon. One thing Ive really appreciated this trip is the volume of the tv in the lounge. Its not blaring like it has been in the past! They keep it very low if youre sitting on the sofa directly in front of it you can catch the words, but sitting back at the tables you dont have to hear it. Ive complained about the too-loud volume in the past, so I was very happy to see this (finally).

    Tonight they had the Irish cheddar and a dried sausage which were excellent together just outstanding! They also had the Irish porter, which went very well with the brown crispy crostinis. Along with those cheeses they had fresh sliced strawberries and milk chocolate medallions delicious! I didnt even bother with any of the other stuff. The chef was preparing the African stew with broccolini mashed potatoes, and a falafel/eggplant thing.

    The lounge was pretty busy throughout the night, which was more like normal. Chris family got trapped in France in a downpour, so they were delayed getting back. I spent a while talking to Michael about some work stuff, and was texting with Holli about DVC seems shes interested in that now. She truly had no idea any of this existed (the nice resorts), and she loved everything she saw.

    Originally, Chris & Amanda were planning to head back around 6, but they never showed up. I saved Amanda a couple of the African stews, but when there was no sign of them by 8pm I asked what was going on. Turns out theyd left Epcot and gone back to the Studios, to Ogas Cantina. At almost 9 they were doing Millenium Falcons Run again. The fact that they just stayed out (when I was sitting there waiting on them) without saying anything really pissed me off especially since Id changed my plans for tomorrow so Id spend time with them and go home later. Chris knew I was pissed, and face timed me from the queue at Falcons Run, saying they were catching a bus after that. I let him know I wasnt in the lounge any longer Im not sitting around for anyone, family or not. We just need to set the departure time for tomorrow.

    Around 7:45 I brought the laptop down to the studio, since the battery was getting low, then I returned to the lounge. Tonight they had zebra mousse which was a tart filled with milk chocolate mousse and a slice of strawberry. Not sure where the zebra came from, but it was delicious. I didnt pay attention to the other stuff since this was all I had the cheese and sausage had filled me up. Once I learned they were at the Studios I didnt bother taking any desserts to save for them. Id already left their extra magic band in their studio, and wasnt interested in waiting up until whatever time they got back.

    I was back in my studio well before 9, so its a quiet evening watching the latest hurricane update. I may stay up to see the 11pm track, just to see if its shifted further east (hopefully). Im not overly impressed with this room. Not only is it as far from the lobby as humanly possible, my view seems to be grass & trees. Its been rare to see an animal, and when I did it was something far away and rather ordinary.

    Tomorrow is the unexpectedly early end to this trip, but Ill get to spend some time with Ari at the Magic Kingdom since theres nothing hurricane-related going on at work.

    DAY 5 Sunday 9/1/19
    Who: Sue (60), DVC Member
    Chris (32), son
    Amanda (30), daughter-in-law
    Ari (3), grandson

    Plan: Drive Home

    Actual: This morning I got up at 5 and relaxed with my cappuccino before getting up to shower & dress around 6:15. Im glad I did, since around 6:30 Amanda texted to say they were up and would be ready sooner. We met just after 7, and after I dropped my suitcase with bell services (due to chocolate in there from the turndown service), we took the bus to Magic Kingdom. Amanda told me last night when they got back to their studio Ari wanted to know where Grandma was, and was lifting the covers up on the beds to see if he could find me, lol.

    Today the park opened at 8 for everyone, and 7 for Disney resort guests. Although we got there right around 8, there were no crowds of people anywhere. We breezed through bag check, and had no wait at the entry. Main Street wasnt busy at all, so this was great. After we walked through the castle Ari saw the carousel so we stopped to ride that (walk-on with a handful of other people). Chris continued on to Gastons to order himself and Ari something for breakfast. After the carousel ride Amanda, Ari & I walked over to join Chris.

    Chris had pretty much finished his cinnamon roll, so we sat while Ari ate his hard-boiled egg, some cheese and a few grapes we took the rest of the fruit & cheese with us. The mermaid ride was another walk-on, so we did that next. By then we were in our fastpass window. Chris had Pooh but it had gone down and given him an anything fastpass. He took Ari and did the Gran Prix Raceway with him. Amanda & I used our fastpass for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train always fun! It stopped (completely) twice while in the mine, which was odd. Im assuming they had some problem in the loading area.

    By the time we finished, Chris & Ari were riding Dumbo, so we went over there. This morning Ari had said he wanted to meet Donald Duck today, so we stayed by the Big Top Circus area, since Donald is one of the characters there. It didnt open until 10, but by being early we were the only ones out there just before 10 and got to be Family of the Day. A very nice cast member took us inside, to give us a tour of the area where the character greets take place. Its a big round building, with a section for each of the 4 characters (Donald, Daisy, Goofy & normally Minnie but since shes temporarily with Mickey by the train station Pluto is filling in). She took us to each characters set, and let Ari pose for pictures and look around.

    Once that was done she led us back to the first area, where the characters would be entering (Plutos spot). Ari was paying attention to the puppy statues in this area, and when he turned around all 4 characters were walking towards him, starting with Daisy & Donald. He ran over and gave them all hugs. The characters played with him for a long while, and took lots of pictures. A photopass photographer captured it all, but other cast members took a ton of pictures with my phone, Amandas phone, and my camera it was great! We did some whole family photos as well, and then eventually Ari had to say goodbye to each one so they could open. It was such a fun experience for him, and fun for us to see him so happy!

    The cast member took Ari by the hand once again, and led us into the shop/snack area and told us she had another surprise before we left. A bonus surprise was the cast member working behind the counter (decorating caramel apples) is a sorority sister of Amandas. While they were chatting, our cast member went and came back with 4 single marshmallow things (marshmallow on a stick, dipped in chocolate, rolled in tiny M&Ms. Ari & I ate ours right away I figured once I got outside with it, the heat would ruin it. They also offered us fruit smoothies, which Chris & Amanda each accepted. Overall it was a terrific experience very special (Disney magic).

    While there we learned about some of the hurricane prep Disney will be going, including taking down all of the fall/Halloween dcor to secure it. I think the plan (may be dependent on when the storm turns) is to cancel a Halloween party, and used that time to get everything taken down once the park closes at 6pm. I imagine similar things will happen in the other parks.

    We headed out into the park and had missed our Jungle Cruise fastpass but didnt care. We were in the window to meet Mickey & Minnie, so we went there. By now more people were in the park, although it probably wasnt as bad as it would have been if the hurricane hadnt affected peoples travel plans to some degree. Ari enjoyed both Mickey and Minnie, and hes really quite taken with Minnie. She seems to be his favorite still maybe its the bow, lol!

    After this I said my goodbyes and headed out of the park, just missing my Animal Kingdom Lodge bus. About 10-15 minutes another one came, and I rode back to Jambo House. After retrieving my suitcase from bell services I went to the car and drove back to Gainesville. I was happy to not have any traffic, but I did have quite a bit of heavy rain for the second half of the drive. On the other side of the road I saw a steady stream of utility trucks and tree cutting trucks headed east most likely to the huge staging area theyve set up by Daytona.

    Once I got home I went through the photos and uploaded some into an album on Shutterfly (after trying Snapfish failed twice). It took forever literally from 3pm until just before 10pm. Not sure why they were loading so slowly, as normally its real quick from home. When it finally finished, I learned that 51 of the 57 photos did not upload due to some error, so Im not sure whats wrong. Id also tried putting them on facebook, but that didnt work earlier either. So, if I can figure it out tomorrow Ill send the photo link out separately.

    SB mentioned that Holli looks so relaxed and happy since she got back and I told him its that Disney magic (and the concierge lounge sure doesnt hurt). She stopped by the front gate where he was working and raved about how much she enjoyed it, and SB warned her to watch out for me because Im a Disney recruiter <g>.

    Overall, even with the hurricane anxiety and interference, and the little snafu on last nights plans, it was a great trip! I loved spending a few days there without going to any parks. Holli was the perfect travel companion, as she loved everything about the lounge & resort, and enjoyed spending time by herself, doing nothing. The 6am opening at Hollywood Studios is well worth doing even though its early. Galaxys Edge is very well themed, and huge but its not a place I really care for. I was very underwhelmed by the Millenium Falcon Run attraction very ho-hum. Today we had lots of great character interaction, and it was a special treat to be chosen as Family of the Day. As always, its a pleasure spending time with Chris, Amanda, and especially Ari. That kid is so entertaining sometimes!

    My next trip will be a quick weekend in a 1-bedroom at Old Key West (all that was available) in order to see Starship perform later this month. Should be fun, although itll still be way too hot. The main Food & Wine trip will be after it starts to cool down cant wait for that!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

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  3. #2
    MousePlanet Columnist
    Join Date
    Apr 2001

    Finally figured out the problem - outdated drivers. The album's on Snapfish, where I changed the title of some (like a caption). The rest are pretty obvious what they are ;-)


    Sue (Holland) Rayford

  4. #3

    Thank you Sue for this report! I enjoy your experiences at WDW since I can so rarely visit. Ari has got to be about the cutest little boy I've ever seen, especially with the characters at MK. Glad you had a good time even with the miserable weather. I hope you and your family (both locations) stay safe during this hurricane!




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