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Thread: Sue Holland Rayford's Labor Day Jambo House Trip

  1. #1
    MousePlanet Columnist
    Join Date
    Apr 2001

    Sue Holland Rayford's Labor Day Jambo House Trip


    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member
    Holli (59), friend
    Chris (36), my son
    Amanda (34), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson
    Dates: Aug 30 Sept 4, 2023
    Resort: Disneys Animal Kingdom Villas (Jambo House) Resort
    Experience: Very Experienced 35th stay at Animal Kingdom Villas

    Im beyond thrilled to have been able to get a club level stay once again. Its very difficult, and a lot of work, but also a healthy amount of luck/good timing. As usual Ill be staying solo in my club level studio but have listed SB, fake Holli and fake Amanda on my reservation. Holli and Amanda are both listed under their real names in their regular dvc studios, for which theyll use their magic bands (or phone). Ill get key cards for them when checking in so they can access the lounge. Chris can be SB for the trip.

    Since points were reallocated 2-3 years ago, club level stays cost more than they used to. This means I cant afford the number of nights per year I used to enjoy. For this trip I booked coming in on Thursday rather than Wednesday, and as usual will change to a cheaper studio (standard view) for the last night since Ill still have lounge access. At 7 months I waitlisted Wednesday, but I didnt really expect it to come through. I could have booked a non-club level studio for that night, but whats the point since I wouldnt have lounge access? To my surprise, exactly 31 days before 8/30 someone canceled that night, and I got my waitlist fulfilled! Now I can arrive on Wednesday like I normally do. Hollis room was also available for 8/30 but she decided to stick with arriving 8/31 in order to save a vacation day for later.

    The priority this trip (and all club level trips) is relaxing at the resort pool in the morning, lounge after showering from the sweaty pool time. I truly hate that the only pool here doesnt open until 10am, as by then its uncomfortably hot (& humid). I will probably spend most of my time outside the pool fence, where I can grab a chaise lounge at a more comfortable early morning time. I can always move inside the fence after 10 so I have access to the pool and the showers there (to cool off). Its unlikely Id still be out there after noon.

    This trip since Chris family wont be there until Friday, I invited Carol Stein (formerly Comedy Warehouse, then Epcot, now retired) and her husband Lee to join us some night before then. Shes never been to the lounge and my recent trips found her either having surgery or being on a cruise. She had a conflict Thursday night, suggested lunch instead, but we settled on Wednesday night. She invited me to join her at a club offsite later, but I declined not wanting to give up the lounge but also not being one who stays up late or wants to drive in the dark in a strange place.

    As usual for a concierge level stay there are no dining reservations and for me no park reservations. Chris & family will go to the parks each day, but its far too hot & humid for me to consider doing that.

    The plans so far are:
    Wednesday 8/30: Drive to WDW, Possible Gideons, Concierge Lounge
    Thursday 8/31: Pool, Concierge Lounge w/Carol
    Friday 9/1: Pool, Concierge Lounge
    Saturday 9/2: Pool, Concierge Lounge
    Sunday 9/3: Change Room, Pool, Concierge Lounge
    Monday 9/4: Possible Gideons, Drive to Gainesville

    DAY 1 Wednesday 8/30/23
    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member

    Plan: Drive to WDW, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: While this trip looked very much at risk not too long ago, I am thrilled that it all worked out the way it did. At work if a storm is threatening, Im part of the team who is there for the duration. My only hope was for Idalia to fizzle out, move really fast, or move away. If it hit us, then I might not be able to leave as we begin recovery and the bazillion things related to that. While it looked dire just a few days ago (and last night when it became a category 4 storm), it all worked out thanks to a shift in the path and much milder than expected wind and rain. In a major stroke of luck the emergency really only lasted 2 days but I worked 30 straight hours on Tuesday into today, leaving work and driving straight to Jambo House. Leaving at noon wasnt feasible, but I was able to get on the road by 1:30 and arrive at Jambo House by 3:30.

    The drive was easier than I expected! Weather was mostly perfect and hardly anyone was on my side of the highway. Going north I saw a steady stream of power company trucks, ambulances, trucks towing boats for search & rescue operations all headed to the areas hit hard by Idalia. Just a year ago Ian all but wiped out several areas near my home (Ft Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva) and now this year a whole new set of people are seeing their homes and livelihoods destroyed. It really sucks.

    Pulling into the Jambo House parking lot I found a row with the first space available. My luck pretty much quit there however, as it was raining. I was able to manage my stuff and an umbrella while hiking up the accessible walkway (to avoid stairs). Two cast members were standing outside so I approached them and asked for someone to take me upstairs to the Kilimanjaro Club (concierge lounge). Once they checked my name on the list of reservations one of them took me inside and up to the lounge. We discovered my magic band wasnt working, so the cast members in the lounge fixed that. The original cast member then took my magic band to the elevator to test it and returned saying it worked. My studio has a view of the pool and its one I like for convenience but also because the connecting door is down by the doorway from the hall rather than next to the sofa.

    I got my computer and phones out and took them to the lounge. After dropping them on a table I got a small amount of trail mix (spiced nuts, goldfish & chocolate peanuts). A glass of sparkling wine completed the welcome ritual! The African drums were playing downstairs, and since it was raining outside they had a couple characters in the lobby to do meet & greet. The cast member alerted me to that one was the penguin from Mary Poppins and I forget who the other was. I wasnt interested in going down to see them.

    I updated the report and took care of the work emails. Around 4:30 I took the laptop back to the studio, unpacked quickly, then went out to the lounge with my kindle. The food offerings at 5pm tonight included drunken goat and toma cheeses, chorizo and the braseola (sp?), lamb stew with rice, pork rib, ham & cheese pinwheels, Disney chicken tenders, various hummus varieties, assorted crudite, dips, crackers, blue cheese, etc.

    Before I got any food or drink, I had a nice long conversation with a delightful cast member from Namibia. Ive never been there but follow a number of HAL cruisers who have been there, and she learned a few things about the USA that she didnt know. Mostly our conversation centered around how were really all more similar than different. Also English is the official language in Namibia (although many refuse to give up their other languages there are 30 over there) so communicating was very easy!
    In the lounge typically weekdays are less busy than weekends for some reason I dont understand. Tonight, it was the least crowded Id ever seen it. At no time were all the table occupied, and often at least half were empty. There was never a line for anything. The cast was able to keep up with clearing tables and socializing with guests. I had some of the cheese (like Toma the best but drunken goat is good), rye crisps, cucumbers & dip, a few chicken nuggets and a pork rib. The chenin blanc is now Fairview rather than Indaba and frankly I prefer Indaba. They do have the Indaba chardonnay but I dont care for chardonnay.

    I did some reading on my kindle, in between talking with Chris and arranging for SB to bring something I can wear up here to stay warm over to Hollis. Its so humid outside you cant see out the windows, and it feels chilly in the air conditioning. Today I was wearing a shirt with sleeves that went below the elbow and I was a little cool. The rest of the trip I have tank tops or spaghetti strap tops Ill need a light hoodie to be comfortable!

    I chatted briefly with one of the cast members Id met last trip. She said long time no see but its only been 3 months, lol! I have one more trip booked and its 8 months away! Just before 7 I took my kindle back to the studio and brought the laptop back out to the lounge. Theres a 2-top table in the corner looking down the hallway where my room is, and there are several electrical outlets there because they used to have 2 big desks in this area used by cast members to check us in (now they use a podium off the elevators). I had the rest of my wine and settled down to update the report.

    It had finally stopped raining, so I spent some time doing online stuff and then around 7:45 put away the laptop and wandered around outside to see the animals before dessert was put out at 8pm. It is so humid outside! You literally cannot see out the windows or sliding glass doors. Once outside cameras fog up. There were some zebras and a few other animals hanging around by Arusha Rock but thats about it. At the overlook by the pool, I spotted one white addax by the fence but nothing else.

    I was back inside by 8:15 and went up to the lounge. Tonight they had zebra domes, something with chocolate & passion fruit, blueberry cinnamon bars and chocolate cake along with assorted cookies and more ham & cheese pinwheels. Instead of beer & wine being put out they had various cordials. Beer & wine (and I think pretty much anything) are available at any time by request.

    I got a blueberry cinnamon bar, chocolate cake and some oatmeal raisin cookies (one for tonight, another for some future time). Back in the studio I put the extra cookie in a ziplok bag then got changed for bed and settled in with the other treats. The blueberry cinnamon bar was new to me and I liked it! The chocolate cake was a skinny rectangle with chocolate frosting on top also very good. The oatmeal raisin cookie is one of the things Disney does very well, so no surprises there. Right or wrong, I enjoyed all of this while watching My 600 Pound Life hope thats not a sign of whats to come!

    I probably wont get to see how the 600+ pound guy does unless the caffeine in the chocolate cake keeps me awake 😉 Today ended up being a great day! It started with the very real possibility I would not be arriving today. Im so happy Idalia cooperated to make my trip happen. I wish shed not caused so much damage & destruction for other people, though. Despite not sleeping for 2 days I felt great arriving here and have enjoyed every minute. The concierge lounge staff are great and the service is wonderful. Having the cultural ambassadors back is a big plus it enhances the experience. I didnt get to enjoy the animals much due to the rain but there will be time for that. The food and ambiance sitting in the lounge is wonderful as always thats what these trips are all about. Holli appreciates and enjoys that, as do Chris & his family. Thats why I keep inviting them back!

    Tomorrow, I had hoped to enjoy the pool in the morning, but the weather forecast is cloudy and rainy. Thats somewhat disappointing, but overall, Im so happy to be here nothing else matters. I decided to book a park reservation for Epcot since I wont be at the pool. If its raining, Ill cancel. If not, Ill get an early preview of the Food & Wine Festival in advance of our real trip at Boardwalk in October. Holli will arrive during the afternoon, and well enjoy a delightful evening in the lounge.

    DAY 2 Thursday 8/31/23
    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member
    Holli (59), friend
    Plan: Drive to WDW, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: Today Holli worked until noon and then left for the 2-hour drive here. Since my waitlist had come through and I arrived yesterday, and the weather sucked for any pool time, I decided on an early visit to the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. My friend Carol Stein was originally going to join me yesterday (Wednesday), but between the storm and me not knowing if I would be there we decided to postpone. It might work for Friday otherwise the next possibility for the concierge lounge is next May.

    It's no surprise that I slept well last night, lol! I went to bed around 9 and wasnt particularly happy when SB called at 5:45! Im always up before then and had forgotten to call him to say goodnight last night, so his calling wasnt out of line. I apologized for not calling and said Id call later. Just after 6:30 I decided to get up & start the day. I made my cappuccino and after 7 went out to the lounge to bring back some breakfast.

    On the way I passed cast member Jack and said good morning. We chatted a bit and I asked him for room keys for my other (invisible) guests (fake Holli & fake Amanda). He didnt have to ask for my name or magic band he just punched some keys and gave me the two key cards with the names written on there with a sharpie.

    For breakfast today the hot stuff was turkey bobotie, oatmeal, warm sticky buns and sausage. The other usual stuff was there as well hard boiled eggs, bagels, pastries, fresh fruit, etc. I fixed a plate and brought it back to the studio to enjoy with my cappuccino. It was a lazy leisurely morning spent online and taking care of some minor work stuff. Chris called to update me on their air conditioning trouble a power company box that powers their a/c had failed, but hopefully the tech thats due 5-9pm today will get it fixed. Its miserable without a/c in Florida this time of year, and I think this is day 3 for them.

    By 9:30 the sun was shining. Do I cancel Epcot and go to the pool, or stick with Epcot??? In the end I decided since Id lost the cooler pool hours already, I might as well give Epcot a shot for a short visit and walk around the countries. I took my shower and got ready, leaving the studio around 10:30. The next bus was due at 10:47 so I must have just missed it. I sat on a bench and by the time it arrived at 10:44 there were enough people waiting to fill almost every seat. Several dads with jumbo strollers stood with those.

    It is so humid outside it took forever for my sunglasses to unfog, and using my phone the screen was wet to the touch. We arrived at Epcot just after 11. At security the line was long but nobody was in the 2 stroller lines. The cast member there started calling people over, saying no wait here so I breezed right through. At the park entrance again there were lines everywhere EXCEPT at the passholders lane. Once again, I breezed right through, which was very nice.

    The park was not crowded, and it felt nice at first (after coming off the chilly bus), but soon I realized that comfort was only temporary. I stuck with shade as much as possible, but it was brutally hot. My plan was to walk one loop around the countries and try a Food & Wine item or two. I already knew what each stand has, and which items were of interest to me this year. Unfortunately, it was so hot & miserable that nearly everything was unappealing. I sure hope its comfortable for our real Food & Wine trip in October.

    I started on the Mexico side and walked around. Out here crowds were pretty light, and most festival stands had no wait at all. Even the margarita stand in Mexico had a very short line. When its cooler I look forward to the chicken tikka masala in India, the gyro in Greece, the chocolate fondue in the Alps, and other choices. For now, I decided I wasnt leaving without getting the cheese soup in Canada.

    I fully realize heavy warm soup sounds like a poor choice in weather like this! But sometimes we intentionally do silly things. There was no line in Canada, and shady seating across the way. I tried to pay with my Chase Disney rewards card and it wouldnt accept it. After a couple failed attempts, I remembered Id emptied it when renewing my annual pass. I have plenty of balance on a Disney gift card so I used that instead transaction went through quickly once I swiped that card. A shady bench facing the lake was my lunch spot and both the soup and pretzel roll were excellent. I also got my passport stamped in case I complete the cheese challenge at some point (buy so many cheese items and get a surprise item).

    Once the soup was finished, I continued walking while eating the rest of the pretzel roll. I passed through Odyssey to see what it looked like in there this year. Thats where the various chicken wing choices can be found. From there I browsed through Creations, partly for the air conditioning. When outside it was driving me crazy that my sunglasses were sliding down my nose. This only happens when its so hot Im sweaty. Eventually I tore off part of a Disney paper napkin, folded it and placed it over the top of my nose. It did the trick, but clearly looked ridiculous. Any ideas for a better solution? Theyre prescription sunglasses, plastic frame, bought in the last year (so not open to replacement).

    I went back to the bus stop and once again had a long wait for a bus. I was there by 12:03. All the bus stops were empty except for mine (6) and bus stop 3 with one guy. Bus after bus came through, dropping off, sitting at an empty bus stop, then driving away. I saw multiple buses for French Quarter one of the smallest resorts here! Finally, at 12:30 or so an empty bus moved from bus stop 7 to pick us up. The air conditioning felt so good!!!!

    Holli texted to say she was stopping to get a quick lunch and would be here 2:45-3:00 so Ill have time to catch General Hospital, lol! After a stop at Kidani Village and loading a scooter there, I was back at Jambo House around 1. In hindsight going to Epcot (or any park) was not a smart move. The overall experience was horrific, thanks almost entirely to the weather (heat/humidity) but also the long bus waits. That said, if the weather had been comfortable, I would have declared the experience ideal and nearly perfect, in every way except the bus delays.

    Back in the studio I gathered up the laptop and my phones and set up camp in the lounge. I was able to get my work email running, which makes it much easier to make longer replies vs using the small phone screen & keypad. I took care of any work stuff then started updating the report. At 2 I moved to the sofa in my studio to finish up while watching General Hospital. I no sooner sat down when there was a knock on the door. A maintenance guy was there to fix my wallpaper.

    I had not called anything in and had not even noticed having any wallpaper, but since this was Disney, I figured he probably wasnt an axe murdered and let him in. I saw nothing but paint on the walls, but he found wallpaper in the bathroom and behind the door was a small section with a tear! He asked if it was ok if he fixed it and of course I said yes. It took no time at all and then he was gone.

    Holli texted right after 3 and I met her at the gate to give her the key card with her name and let her up to the lounge. We ordered 2 glasses of sparkling wine and it came in wine glasses! This is so wrong! Its totally not festive and our wine class instructor would be mortified. I finished dealing with some work stuff and then put the laptop back in the studio. Holli enjoyed some of the food offerings a lot of this is more to her taste than mine. She ordered another glass of sparkling wine and tried to ask the cast member for the right glass. She said the cast member just kind of looked at her with a confused look on her face but the wine came in a champagne flute! Most likely the previous cast member just didnt realize thats the right glass and the second cast member was puzzled by this (blond) guest trying to specify a champagne flute when its already the normal style, lol.

    I set my wine glass wine aside it really wasnt as good in the wrong glass. When a cast member passed by I ordered a half glass which came cold and in a champagne flute <g>. Tonight, the hot foods were favorites butter chicken and the tomato soup with paneer cheese. They also had mealie dogs (corn dog nuggets). Cheeses were Manchego, blue cheese and new to us Tea Hive. Meats were prosciutto and picante chorizo. All the other usual stuff was there as well.

    We started with the tomato soup this is so delicious! Holli commented that a big bowl of this would be so good if you were sick. Im rarely sick, so Id enjoy it any time, lol! Next, we got the butter chicken, which was outstanding as always. For wine I was disappointed last night that the chenin blanc is now Fairview instead of Indaba, so tonight after a small glass of the chenin blanc I decided to switch to the Indaba chardonnay. I dont normally like Chardonnay, but this one is not oaky and when my dear friend Kathy introduced me to the concierge lounge the only white option was Indaba chardonnay. Tasting it again tonight brought back memories of the years we had together and our nights in the concierge lounge before she passed away. This will be my go to wine when here, unless they bring back the Indaba chenin blanc. Holli had the Indaba merlot and said it was excellent.

    She got some of the chorizo, cheeses and stuff. She loved the chorizo and raved about the tea hive cheese. I got a piece of Manchego, piece of tea hive, piece of chorizo, a crisp and a couple mealie dogs. The mealie dogs are always good! The tea hive was outstanding just a great flavor. This is a cheddar-style cheese with a mixture of black tea and bergamot orange hand-rubbed on a one-day old cheese and allowed to mature for 8 months. It was wonderful! The chorizo was good as well, and less greasy than the paprika chorizo served last night.

    Shortly before 7 a cast member came through with cardboard containers for people to gather up anything they wanted to go before they pulled it away. We declined, but then I thought about Amanda liking the butter chicken and asked about lids and smaller containers. The cast member suggested a coffee cup with lid and encouraged me to just do it. I dumped 3 portions of the butter chicken and rice into the coffee cup and have it in my fridge for Amanda. Coming back from the studio I saw someone holding one of the cardboard things full of mealie dogs and realized I should have gotten some of those for Ari!

    We decided to go see the animals and took the stairs at the end of my hallway. At the first viewing area across from the firepit we found a lot of animals more than ever before. Everything but the giraffe were right there, and we could see giraffe off in the distance. At the furthest viewing point there were no animals unusual, but thats because they were all in the other area. After watching and taking some pictures Holli suggested checking out the area by the pool so we headed over there.

    Last trip the flamingos were nesting so we went there first and saw the nesting was done and quite a few younger flamingos were present. Theyre gray, and fluffier. It was getting darker then so I decided to wait to take pictures tomorrow with better lighting. We walked over towards the savannah viewing area and were shocked to see a big giraffe closer than wed ever seen eating leaves from the tree right there. We rushed over and took pictures & video. A younger giraffe came over to join the big one but since he was too short to reach the branches and the big one wasnt sharing, eventually the younger one wandered off. I spoke with the cast member working there and he said this (the giraffe so close) has never happened before. How fortunate we happened to be here to experience it! If only it was a bit earlier and lighter outside. Holli was over the moon excited and couldnt stop talking about how incredible of an experience it was.

    We went back inside and up to the lounge, where the dessert period had started. Tonight they had a new item cashew caramel tart. I was intrigued and we both tried one but we were both disappointed. It was heavy on the caramel but runny and also salty. They had the Kenyan coffee tart, orange sesame cake and a chocolate cupcake w/chocolate icing. I didnt bother with the coffee tart but the orange sesame cake was great as always and the chocolate cupcake was a very pleasant surprise. Usually cupcakes look better than they taste but this was really good.

    Holli got small samples of 3 of the 4 liqueurs and decided the amarula was her favorite. I told her thats really good mixed with kahlua, and kahlua was the liqueur she had not sampled. She took her amarula up and added some kahlua and really liked it. I think we went through this same process last May, lol! When cast member Francisco came by she showed him a picture of a special drink hed made her in 2019 that she still raves about and has posted on Facebook. He talked to her a bit, noted what she had tried and liked tonight, and said he would make her a special drink.

    We saw him at the liqueurs and knew he was pouring amarula and kahlua. He took it out back and added some type of raspberry liqueur, not sure what else, and topped it with whipped cream. The drink looked great and when Holli tasted it she declared it amazing. I tried a ship and it was very good. I think she needs Francisco to come by and make them for her at home, lol! She used the MDE app to compliment him.

    Around 9:30 we called it a night and returned to our studios. I did some online stuff then went to work finishing the report. Its a later night than last night, but after sleeping so long I guess thats not unexpected.

    Today overall was a great day. Going to a park in this weather was a really stupid move on my part. Everything else about being in the park was wonderful, but the weather more than canceled out the good stuff. I should have just gone to sweat at the pool which is what I will do tomorrow. Its been great seeing all the cast members from last trip. They recognize and remember me, which is so welcoming and nice. The food and drinks were excellent tonight and the giraffe experience is something most people will never get to do we were so fortunate!

    Tomorrow its definitely pool time even if its cloudy! Chris & family will be arriving and should be here before 5. Carol Stein & hubby are planning to be here a little before then, so itll be a big group this night. I dont normally have so many people, but a studio allows 4 people and last night it was only 1 and tonight was only 2, so trip-to-date Im not exceeding whats allowed <g>.

    DAY 3 Friday 9/01/23
    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member
    Holli (59), friend
    Chris (36), my son
    Amanda (34), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson

    Plan: Pool, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: I slept well again last night, turning the lights out just after 11 and getting up just after 5:30. I enjoyed my cappuccino in bed with the local news on the tv. I also ordered some silicon non-slip nose pads for my sunglasses (thanks Mandy). Today its supposed to rain but mostly in the afternoon, so Ill definitely get out to my spot outside the pool area early. Ridiculously, the pool area doesnt open until 10 am. Ive said it before and Ill say it again thats way too late for a pool to open, especially when its so hot! The feels like temperature this afternoon is supposed to be 105-110 degrees again.

    Last night I told Holli about the bacon & gruyere quiche at Mara and learned she loves quiche. She specifically thought quiche with gruyere cheese was amazing. We agreed that one of these mornings if the lounge offerings were no spectacular wed order & share the quiche. A little before 8 I dressed in a swimsuit & coverup then went to check out the lounge food. Today they had French toast bread pudding, oatmeal, vegetable boboti and biscuits w/sausage gravy. I can pass on all of that, so I texted Holli to let her know. She agreed, so I placed the order.

    We met in the lounge and added some fresh fruit. The order was ready quickly and I went downstairs to pick it up while Holli got her coffee. We forgot about mimosas that would have been a nice touch! Id gotten an extra plate and used that to cut the quiche in half. Holli took her half and declared it wonderful she really liked it. I agree and since its only sold here the only time I get it when Im staying here.

    Around 8:30 we left the lounge, stopping to look at the chocolate carving an African mask and the shape of the African continent. Quite impressive, and I assume its due to being Food & Wine Festival time. I gathered up my stuff and headed down to the outside of the pool area by 8:45.

    I spent the time reading but also dozed off for a bit. They opened the pool just before 10 and Holli arrived right after that. My chair was outside one of the gates, so I just stayed there and walked inside to use the pool when I needed to cool off. Holli spent most of her time in the pool and chose a chaise lounge just inside the gate. It filled up quickly in there! It was very hot but the water was nice and cool. Amanda texted to say they were on the road early (around 11).

    At one point when I was reading my kindle gave me a warning message that I was using it outside of the safe temperature range. Not wanting to ruin it, I took it upstairs and put it in the studio. The housekeeper arrived just then club level guests get daily housekeeping. Its not something I need but admit its really nice coming back to a room the looks like Im just checking in for the first time!

    I went back to the pool for a bit longer and moved to the shade around 11:45 to cool down. Just after noon I let Holli know I was leaving and went up to take my shower. Coming off the elevator, I turned in the wrong direction (towards the balcony) and quickly turned around to fine Jack laughing at me, lol! He said it happens all the time and not to worry about it <g>.

    I showered and got dressed, then returned to the lounge. I ate some cucumber slices and drank some water. After the quiche I still wasnt really hungry. Amanda texted when they were 25 minutes away. Holli was on her balcony reading her book. Characters appeared in the lobby Donald, Tigger, Stich and some aviator duck. Amanda sent me a picture of Ari with the aviator duck guy. Their room was ready, so they brought their stuff to their room and then met me up in the lounge. Their magic bands did not work but the app on the phone did. Chris went down to get the magic bands reset, since Ill need a magic band to access their room on Sunday when Im homeless.

    Wed been eyeing tables in a prime location and 2 of the 3 wed need were available, so we moved over there. When the people at the 3rd table left, we grabbed that table and moved it over to complete what we needed. Ari face timed Holli so she came up to join us. Soon Carol texted to say they were at the valet parking, so I went down to meet them in the lobby. Shes been to the resort before but never up to the lounge. Id met her husband Lee a couple times before, but it had been over a year or more since last time. He owns and ice company but is also a ventriloquist.

    We joined the others at our table, and it was just a lovely evening. Lee loved all the fresh veggies. The hot foods tonight were Ivory coast seafood stew over rice, sweet corn pudding with Durban chicken (spicy but delicious), and macaroni & cheese. The cheeses & charcuterie were similar to 2 nights ago. The watermelon tomato salad with feta cheese was excellent!

    We had great conversation, and everyone seemed to really hit it off and enjoy both the food and company. Carol and Lee travel extensively now that shes retired so it was interesting to share travel stories. After we were full of the food and wine we went down to check out the animals on the savannah. There were quite a few animals out and we enjoyed seeing them until it started to sprinkle. We came inside and sat around the fire pit for a while. Around 7 Carol & Lee decided to hit the road. It was great having them here and we all had a very nice time together. Ari endeared himself to both of them, as usual.

    The rest of us went up to the lounge and the food was out by 7:30. Tonight the 4 desserts were all new to us cheetah spots (chocolate mousse things), salted caramel brownie, confetti bar and banana cream tart. We tried them all. Chris was the only one who liked the confetti bar. The salted caramel brownie was too salty for me. The cheetah spot was the favorite of Amanda, Holli & Ari. Chris & I liked the banana cream tart the best.

    Chris had gotten a special drink made earlier and had another with his desserts. It was an African pina colada but with no rum but cognac instead and some jungle juice. It was very tasty! Holli headed back to her room and the rest of us hung out together in the lounge until almost 9pm before turning in.

    Today was a delightful day, even with it being so hot at the pool! I wish it had been cool enough for my kindle, but even with having to return that to the room I enjoyed having a nice morning in the sun. Its great having everyone together again, and Carol & Lee were a nice addition to the group. Ari really took a shine to her, and also to Lee. The food in the lounge was great once again, and although I didnt care for a couple of the dessert offerings there was more than enough to satisfy!

    Tomorrow is another relaxing day pool for the morning and concierge lounge in the evening. A Disney friend from RADP, Barry Wallis will be coming by to visit and meet in person for the first time and later in the day people Holli know will be checking into a club level room and will be in the lounge for the evening. Should be another fun day!

    DAY 4 Saturday 9/02/23
    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member
    Holli (59), friend
    Chris (36), my son
    Amanda (34), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson

    Plan: Pool, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: I slept well and got up a little after 5:30. My cappuccino came back to bed with me while I watched local news and did online stuff. Looks like the president and first lady are flying into Gainesville this afternoon, then will drive up to Live Oak to see the damage caused by Idalia. It looks horrific!

    Just before 7 Amanda texted to say they were on their way up to the lounge. I met them out there. Ari ate a lot last night and continued that practice this morning with 2 bowls of cereal, oatmeal, bacon, hard boiled egg, 2 milks, and Im not sure what else. Chris lagged behind to take his shower so Ari fixed Chris breakfast and had it waiting for him sticky bun, oatmeal and a toasted bagel with cream cheese. Amanda said lately hes gotten interested in cooking and did some type of chefs camp.

    The hot foods today were sticky buns, oatmeal, bacon and bacon & swiss cheese bobotie. The bobotie was very good, and I was able to find a piece of crispy bacon. Amanda loved the cheese Danish and the croissants. Holli showed up just as the others were heading out, so I sat with her a bit longer, returning to the studio to get ready for the pool around 8.

    I changed into a swimsuit/coverup, added ice to my water bottle, then went down to verify the magic band works on Chris & Amandas room. Ill be storing my stuff there tomorrow while I change rooms and may end up having to shower there. Once that was done, I went out to my usual spot outside the pool.

    It was completely overcast no blue sky at all. It stayed that way until 11am!! The plus side is it made it more comfortable, but clearly it wasnt great for getting sun. At 11 the clouds disappeared, and it was sunny with blue skies without a single cloud. By noon it was cloudy and overcast again. Holli showed up just before 10 and was surprised by the clouds. When the pool opened, she went inside the fence and did some reading. I stayed on my chaise lounge outside doing my reading.

    When the sun came out it got warm very quickly, so I went into the pool and sat on the edge with my kindle. Chris, Amanda & Ari were at Magic Kingdom, and it seems the park was full of idiots today. Some lady and her kid exited the Tomorrowland Speedway before getting to the unloading area! Cast members were yelling at her to get back in the car. Had another car come up on the next rail they could have been hit how stupid! Then at Astro Orbiter some kid exited on the wrong side, which caused them to shut the ride down to run it empty as a safety precaution. Chris later said something similarly stupid happened at Tron.

    Just before noon Amanda texted to say they were on their way back. Just after that Barry texted to say the same, but they were not on the same bus. When Barry got closer, I went up to meet him in the lobby. Weve known each other via the internet for 25-30 years but had never met in person. We went upstairs to the lounge and had a wonderful afternoon. At one point Chris family came by so they got to meet Barry. Later Holli came up so she joined us. Barry happens to be an accomplished magician and did a number of tricks for us it was a real treat and hes very good! Conversation (and sparkling wine) flowed easily and I think everyone had a really nice time.

    Around 3:15 Holli left to take her shower and it was time for me to do the same. Barry was headed to Epcot for a dinner at Monsieur Paul tonight. Im so glad he was able to come by and finally meet in person.

    I took my shower and was back out in the lounge by 4:15. I secured our table for the evening and soon Chris family arrived. They plan to see what the food is but probably head to Epcot. Holli used to be in a long-term relationship that she ended 4 years ago. She remained friends with the guys sister and found out Thursday night that theyre arriving to a club level room here (4th floor) this afternoon.

    Tonight, the cheeses are Barely Buzzed (espresso and lavender hand-rubbed with hints of butterscotch and caramel), Manchego and blue cheese. Hot foods are bbq meatballs, chicken corn chowder and some new rice dish. The crispy bread was excellent not the rye, not the olive. The meats were a chorizo and salami. Overall, it was one of the best combinations. I loved both the chorizo and salami and the barely buzzed cheese was outstanding.

    New friends Chris (sister of Hollis ex) and hubby Jerry arrived, having checked in this afternoon, and they were terrific people! Chris & family left for Epcot after enjoying the food, leaving the 4 of us at the table. We had a fabulous time sharing stories of travels. Its a shame SB wasnt here as theyre a fan of the Orioles and attend games there. SB is heading up to Baltimore at the end of September and I know hed met these people hed look forward to seeing them up there.

    Chris & Amanda texted to say their bad luck on rides had continued earlier every attraction they did at Magic Kingdom had some stupid guest issue, and now the skyliner was stopped. They eventually got moving again and headed back to the resort. We were all still there in the lounge, having enjoyed the desserts. They joined us in the lounge, and Ari immediately hit it off with Chris, which concerned Holli since Ari gave her a play doh engagement ring a few years ago. Males can be so fickle <g>.

    Eventually we all retreated to our respective rooms. I need to get Hollis key from her before she leaves, so I can continue to access the lounge tomorrow. Once I check out and check into my non-club level room my magic band wont work for lounge access even though I am entitled to be there until midnight.

    Today was a delightful relaxing day, which passed all too quickly! The cloudy pool time was disappointing but more comfortable. It was great to finally meet & spend time with Barry such a nice guy and a very talented magician. The evening in the lounge was great, and meeting Chris & Jerry was an unexpected bonus. They heard about this place via Holli, who was here via me. This is their second stay theyre hooked.

    Tomorrow is my last full day (big BOO HOO) and I will be checking out of my club level studio and checking into an ordinary studio to save dvc points. The ordinary room is about half the points, and while thats not huge when you only have 150 points at this resort its a necessity. I plan to enjoy the pool in the morning and relax in the lounge for the afternoon. Ill store my stuff in Chris room until mine is ready and well have one last evening in the concierge lounge.

    DAY 5 Sunday 9/03/23
    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member
    Chris (36), my son
    Amanda (34), my daughter-in-law
    Ari (7), my grandson

    Plan: Change Room, Pool, Concierge Lounge

    Actual: I slept a bit later this morning, not getting up until nearly 6. I made my cappuccino and could watch the sunrise from bed. Today the sky is much clearer than yesterday. Since Im moving today, I got up around 7:15 and finished packing up my stuff. Ill store it in Chris room until my new room is ready. Amanda texted that they were having breakfast, so I got dressed and joined them. Today we were back to turkey bobotie, sausages, oatmeal and sticky buns.

    After breakfast they headed off to Hollywood Studios. I moved my stuff to their room, checked out and back in with the cast member in the lounge, and then went out to outside the pool area. Once again it was cloudy at first but today it cleared by 9am. It was a little cooler too, with an occasional nice breeze. Holli stopped by on her way out and said someone had ducked her with a duck that had giraffe spots (she bought a jeep).

    It was a lovely morning I did some reading, went in the pool a couple times, and relaxed. Around 11:30 I got up and went inside to shower. Amanda texted to say they were on the bus back to the resort, so I quickly took my shower and got dressed, then texted her to give the all clear. After drying my hair, I put everything away and took the laptop up to the lounge. Hopefully Ill get the room ready text before too long.

    The text came right around 3pm, which is when Chris family returned from the pool for their showers. I gave them time to finish before going over to move my stuff. They headed over to Disney Springs to meet a local friend but will be back for the food in the lounge. My room is the first one off the lobby, so very convenient. I did some reading out on the balcony and it was very pleasant.

    I went up to the lounge around 4 and did some reading at our table. The hot foods tonight were butter chicken, tomato soup w/paneer cheese and corn dog nuggets. They had the tea hive cheese tonight, which is the best ever. Chris tried it and agreed. They were late getting back from Disney Springs but still had plenty of time to eat. Towards the end a cast member came by with the big cardboard containers in case we wanted to take anything for later, but we were too full at that point. Its amazing the quantity of food and drinks some people take and when theyre staying down on the 4th floor, theyre in a regular room so its not like they have a villa full of people who cant make it to the lounge. Yesterday the couple next to us took at least a dozen bottles of soda, plus many bags of chips.

    After dinner we decided to take the shuttle over to Kidani Village to see their animals. On the Pembe savannah we saw a couple okapi one wandered off a bit and proceeded to lift his tail and shoot pebbles of poop to the ground. We also saw some big bird they call Cassanova not sure of the species. We walked around to the viewing area below the lobby and saw a giraffe and some of the African crowned crane. On the way there I stopped at the dvc kiosk and got my member medallion. Barry had told me about this and showed me his its a nice little gift for members.

    We caught the shuttle back to Jambo House and arrived at 7:59. Desserts start at 8 and they were all set up when we got upstairs. Tonight, they had the chocolate cake bar, blueberry crumble, cheetah spots and a passion fruit smores tart. Ari got one of the Mickey ice cream sandwiches and the rest of us got an assortment of the desserts. I had a blueberry crumble and a chocolate cake bar the chocolate was the best one for me. Chris loved the passion fruit smores thing. I tried a bite and was horrified yuck! Im not a fan of passion fruit. They also had chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, so I grabbed a few oatmeal raisin to bring home to SB but theres a good chance one them wont make it home. We said our goodbyes and headed back to our rooms Ill see them again at their place in a few weeks.

    Today was another lovely day even being homeless most of the day didnt spoil it. This was the best pool morning yet! Relaxing around the resort and in the lounge was perfect. The last evening in the lounge included most of my favorite foods how lucky was that! Tomorrow I may stop by Gideons early and then will head home. Chris checked on it today and theyre back open again. Today the virtual queue was operating with a 4-hour wait. Weekend days are just awful!

    DAY 6 Monday 9/04/23
    Who: Sue (64), DVC Member

    Plan: Possible Gideons, Drive to Gainesville

    Actual: I slept well, although this room wasnt as silent as my last one. Around midnight I could hear what sounded like carts being rolled around on a cement floor, but I have no idea what it might have been. I think theres a cast member area next to me but what would anyone be doing in the middle of the night? Around 5 I heard what sounded like thunder, but I got up and turned on the tv to find theres no weather out there at all.

    I made my cappuccino and decided cookies from Gideons are the last things I need after all the food Ive eaten this trip. Also sweating outside in the line to get in wasnt very appealing, so I decided to skip Gideons this trip. Around 7:15 I got up and got ready to head home. Part of I-75 is shut down on the southbound side (Im traveling north) so hopefully that doesnt create a nightmare drive.

    I made a quick trip to Mara for a bagel not my normal breakfast but since Id gotten the quiche earlier in the trip didnt want to do that again. I did my check out via the app and was out the door around 7:30. Traffic was light, and I felt bad for the hordes of people having to exit the southbound side of I-75 due to the closure. There was a big semi-truck that had jack knifed and was laying sideways across the highway. I pulled in right about 9:30, which gave me plenty of time to do my laundry, go into the office and catch up with some of the recorded shows while I was away.

    I only took a small number of pictures this trip (besides the few on facebook) but did put them in an album on Snapfish

    Overall, it was a really nice trip relaxing and fun spending time with friends. I dont miss the parks at all this time of year. Im undecided on whether Ill try for club level next Labor Day weekend. I enjoy it but might wait for a cooler weather weekend (like January). Guess I have almost a month to figure it out!

    The next trip will be with SB for Food & Wine Festival. All of the park reservations are Epcot (no surprise there, lol). Well arrive Sunday 10/22, get settled and then enjoy Food & Wine Festival Monday through Thursday, going home Friday. Weve got a 1-bedroom villa at Boardwalk for this trip. Not long after that were doing a long weekend Nov 9th in a 2br at Beach Club with Chris family. Should be fun and hopefully cooler!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

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  3. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Gulf Coast of Florida

    Hi Sue, it is really heartening to see that Disney excellence is still around at the lounge at Animal Kingdom. Thank you for another trip report. We used to be big park stormers but now we enjoy the tranquility and good food at the resorts.

  4. #3

    Thanks, Sue, for another great trip report and pictures! I'd love to stay at AK concierge some day, but since we don't own there I doubt I'll make that happen. The food and ambience look wonderful!


    "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference." --Eeyore



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