Brumcg's 2009 Trip Report (3/20 - 3/28)


#1

Howdy folks,

We’re back from our first trip to WDW in 2 years. Before the gap, we had been on trips for 7 straight years. Simply put, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Our last few trips really started to slow down quite a bit, but the anticipation for this trip - and the crowds - put us in, well, let’s say “half-commando” mode.

I’ve done a non-standard trip report due to the slow pace of our last several trips. In my commando days, I used to write blow-by-blow reports; then as our trips changed, I started to write “highlight” based reports… and I’ll stick to that format. I’ll break the report down into food, the resort, the parks, and the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink is going to be big this year. At the end, I’ll post some pics.

Planning prior to the trip is done on a very democratic basis. For the parks, everyone gets a pick of an attraction that they HAVE to do and then we rate the rest; from this, a list comes together that we use to prioritize what we’d like to do. For dining, it’s the same; we all pick one place, and then take the highest rated places. This said, we’re always ready to zig when everyone else zags.

The cast is myself (age 44), my wife Sandy (age greater than me), my daughter Mags (age 17), and my daughter Mo (age 9).

Food is, not surprisingly, still a huge priority for us… so I’ll do that first.


#2

OHHHHH, I can’t wait!!!


#3

[QUOTE=brumcg;948384]Howdy folks,

We’re back from our first trip to WDW in 2 years. Before the gap, we had been on trips for 7 straight years. Simply put, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Our last few trips really started to slow down quite a bit, but the anticipation for this trip - and the crowds - put us in, well, let’s say “half-commando” mode.

I’ve done a non-standard trip report due to the slow pace of our last several trips. In my commando days, I used to write blow-by-blow reports; then as our trips changed, I started to write “highlight” based reports… and I’ll stick to that format. I’ll break the report down into food, the resort, the parks, and the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink is going to be big this year. At the end, I’ll post some pics.

Planning prior to the trip is done on a very democratic basis. For the parks, everyone gets a pick of an attraction that they HAVE to do and then we rate the rest; from this, a list comes together that we use to prioritize what we’d like to do. For dining, it’s the same; we all pick one place, and then take the highest rated places. This said, we’re always ready to zig when everyone else zags.

The cast is myself (age 44), my wife Sandy (age greater than me), my daughter Mags (age 17), and my daughter Mo (age 9).

Food is, not surprisingly, still a huge priority for us… so I’ll do that first.[/QUOTE]

Alright, I love your report already, Bruce.

So, you make this extensive list and rating of rides because why? When we go, we do EVERYTHING and have time to spare. So I am wondering if you do it because it’s so busy during the times you travel to WDW or just because you love to make lists :laugh:

I have been waiting for a trip report to sink my teeth in!


#4

In the old days of Mousebuzz (aka DisneyCentral) there used to be a Rate & Review section which I really liked. I used to sum up my reviews in the Trip Report and then write a longer review in Rate & Review. So, with R&R a thing of the past, I’ll write longer reviews in the Restaurant section and keep my summaries here like “normal.”

We did Tables in Wonderland (20% off meals and alcohol at select restaurants). I didn’t think the DDP was going to save us much based on our selections, and I liked the flexibility of TiW.

Restaurants are listed in the order we ate. I’m using the old R&R 1-5 Mickey rating scale, but I added in a .5 increment. For the first time, I’m including ratings for everyone in the family at the end. All meals are dinners unless indicated.

Cinderella’s Royal Table lunch (3 Mickeys): We’ve eaten here once before when I really enjoyed it, so I was disappointed. The Check-in process was a complete mess. Appetizer was good, but the entree (Major Domo’s for all of the adults) were cold. Of course the big attraction is the characters. It was here where we realized that 9 year old Mo was less enthusiastic about the characters than the 7 year old Mo. :crying: That was unexpected. Sandy went 3.5 :mickey:, Mags 3 :mickey:, and Mo stil went 4 :mickey:.

Nine Dragons (3 Mickeys): This was our first time eating at 9D. We thought the food was good - not great - but the atmosphere was a dissapointment. We were sitting on top of other tables, and the noise level was crazy. Sandy and Maggie agreed with my 3 :mickey: rating, but Mo really loved the food and gave it 4 :mickey:.

Biergarten (3 Mickeys): One important note is that we live in a very Germanic area, and we often notice that we’re not easily impressed with German restaurants outside the area. That said, we all rated Biergarten with a 3, and that’s not bad. One issue for us is that we sat at a table for 8 with 2 other couples (who didn’t know each other), and all attempts at converstation (when it was quiet enough) completely failed.

Tokyo Dining (5 Mickeys): We had a Noon ADR, the first of the day. We were there early and got to see the welcome demonstration. We love sushi, and thought the food was delicious, the service impeccable, and we loved that the tables were well spaced and even at it’s loudest we could still have a conversation. The only negative is that while they are on the DDP, they aren’t on TiW. Everyone in the family went 5 :mickey:.

Tony’s (2.5 Mickeys): Well all went with 2.5 Mickey’s except for Mo who went with 3. Honestly, 2.5 might be generous. Appetizers were good, my wife liked her dessert, but the entrees were very bland except for Mo’s Shrimp Scampi which I quite liked.

Rose & Crown (4 Mickeys): We got an Illuminations table; the food was really good, but I thought the service could have been a touch better and the viewing tables could be nicer. We all went with 4 :mickey: except Maggie went with 4.5. A really nice meal.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (5 Mickeys): Hoop is one of my favorite things to do at WDW. The food is merely good (very good in some cases), but it’s not about the food. Excellent! Sandy also went with 5 :mickey:; the girls went with 4.5 (so picky!).

Chef Mickey’s (2.5 Mickeys): Wow. What a disappointment for me. The food was okay, but the selection wasn’t to my liking. Seriously, what is up with the buffet bacon?!? Weird stuff! The characters flew by at breakneck pace. Sandy: 3 :mickey:; Mags 2.5 :mickey:; Mo still gave it a 5 :mickey: rating, but I have no idea why.

Artist Point (5 Mickeys): Yes! My favorite restaurant is back on track. The best server that we had on the trip (Diana), fantastic appetizers, entrees, and wine. Everyone agree except Sandy who went with 4.5 :mickey:. She was disappointed with the dessert selection and was bothered by the prices (remember the 2 year gap!).

Chefs de France (3.5 Mickeys): Okay, my rating is probably lower than it should be… because I’m dumb. I ordered some items not recommended by the server, and they were merely okay. Great desserts! Sandy: 3.5 :mickey:; Mags and Mo: 4 :mickey:.

Crystal Palace (4 Mickeys): This was our final meal of the trip, and we very nearly canceled it. My wife assumed that we were going to have a repeat of Chef Mickeys. Well, it was great. Great quality, great selection, and the characters were better paced. Sandy: 4.5 :mickey:; Mags 4.5 :mickey:; Mo 5 :mickey:.

We didn’t do many counter service meals. Breakfast at the resort and dinner with some snacking worked best for us. There were 2 food items outside of sitdown restaurants that deserve mention…

Dole Whip: In the 1980’s, for some reason, our local grocery had a self-serve Dole Whip machine and we could get it every Saturday. So… Dole Whip was never anything special to me. Mags, though, decided she wanted one… so for 2 days we heard nothing but “I want a Dole Whip!” She finally got one, and even though I thought it could live up to the build up, she loved it (and we got another one later in the trip!).

Casey’s Hot Dogs: I love a good dog, and Casey’s spicy relish is one of my favorite things. I can’t even resist them at basically $5 a pop. I had 1.5 on the trip. On my second stop on our last day - with huge crowds - my bun was nearly in 2 pieces and eventually broke apart, the dog broke through, bounced off my tray and on to the floor. Bah! :angry: At that point, no way I was going to wait in line to tell them my tale of woe. Watch your buns folks! :redface:


#5

Love the TR Brumcg, and especially like your food reviews- too bad about the hot dog, I would of been so cross!- more please though its really good!


#6

I am loving the review. I think a thread on rate and review is a great idea. It is nice to hear about everyones meals and what they liked and did not like. So, it is nice to see some interesting reviews. Keep the TR comming.


#7

Because I like to make lists is a part of it… :redface:

I’m a data guy by trade, so I tend to think of things like this. I mean - I’m somewhat embarrassed to say this, but I actually have a database with the park attractions, some simple stats, our ratings, queries and reports that will pop out touring lists. Wow, typing that made me sound really geeky. :laugh:

The other part is the crowds. We nearly always go the last full week in March (our kids spring break). My might have been able to do “everything” if we stayed in the parks longer… but we don’t. When we gas, we head back to the room to relax.

We had 10 “must do’s” on our MK list and did them all (our goal). We had another 22 attractions on the list that were “gravy” and we did 5 of them. And we spent quite a bit of time in the MK…

We ended up doing all of our must-do’s with the exception of the Nemo show in the AK. A smashing success in our book! :happy:

Bruce


#8

Ooh, like your :mickey: ratings… great short but thorough restaurant reviews.

And I completely understand your “data guy” situation. I tend to do some similar things… :laugh:

Can’t wait for more!


#9

We are DVC members at the Villas of Wilderness Lodge, and it’s the only place we’ve stayed on property. We fell in love with the Wilderness Lodge when we visited it in 1994, and it’s still hard to believe that we get to stay there on each trip. I know some day we’ll try somewhere else… but it might be awhile.

We had a 1-BR villa on the 4th floor (4540) which faced the road that leads to Fort Wilderness. Not the greatest view, but we didn’t spend much time on the balcony.

Flag Families were booked for the trip (flag families get to go to the top of the WL to raise the flags). For the first time, I did the Wonders of the Lodge Tour solo. Stan does the tour; for those of you who don’t know Stan, he is one of the true treasures of WDW. The tour is free and very much worth the 45-ish minutes. “Tour” is a bit of a misnomer… you actually stand in 2 different spots.

Stan is funny; he’s talking retirement in June or October of this year… but he said the same thing 2 years ago. I’ll be stunned and saddened when he leaves… although no one deserves retirement more (he’s 81). We were told that he was working Wednesday through Saturday, but we didn’t see him on Saturday when we left. :crying:

Mo and I went swimming 3 times during the trip… twice in the main resort pool and once in the Hidden Springs DVC pool. With the temps often in the 70’s, I froze :eek:. If 8-year old Faith from Alabama is out there, thanks for relieving me in the pool :heart:; Mo is very shy, but she and Faith had a great time for nearly an hour. The pools don’t have many bells and whistles, but they fit in perfectly with the resort theme.

Boat transportation rocked! I didn’t realize that the MK route no longer stops at Fort Wilderness. Hoo-ray! We also used the resort (WL-Contemporary-FW) transportation mutliple times, and with one exception we had short waits and always had quick trips.

Bus transportation, at first, seemed horrendous. For the first part of our trip, it seemed that we always “just missed” the bus. Once, we waited 35 minutes for a bus to Epcot from WL… 4 AK busses came and went during that time. After Illuminations, we finished our R&C meal at a slow pace and took a leisurely stroll through Epcot to the bus line… to find a full queue. It was the first post-Illuminations bus! :pinch: The second bus came quickly after, so our wait was minimal, but I felt the pain of those who must have been waiting over 30 minutes easily.

Anyway, the second part of our trip seemed much better with busses waiting for us or arriving shortly after we did. In the end, I had to admit that things seemed to even out.

My wife and daughter encountered an armadillo one night on the Villa walkway. Hilarious.

High marks to the WL Cast Members. On our check out day, the bell services guy (Tone) really helped minimalize our waiting.

The only negative is that our room could use some TLC. It’s definitely showing its age and could use a good deep cleaning.


#10

An armadillo:ohmy::ohmy::ohmy:, OMG I would have died:crying: (and so would DD)… but DH would have found it hilarious too no doubt!


#11

Great TR. Love the restaurant :mickey: ratings.

The Geek in me always came out to maximize our trip until the family rebelled. No more lists allowed to complete the assault. We now just go on favorites also and do whatever we want based on lines.


#12

Long before I became a member here I would always love to read the trip reports. The details in this one already makes it one of the best. I also love the ratings. Thanks brumcg’s.:pluto:


#13

Our normal park schedule is to hit 2 parks each day - a morning and late afternoon/evening with a break in the middle. We did 1 session at the AK, 2 at Studios, 4 at MK, and 6 at Epcot. I can’t get my crew to make EMH in the morning, so I don’t try. Typically, even I can’t do the late EMH’s, so that’s right out. Ideally, we completely avoid the EMH parks for the day.

As I mentioned, we did all of our “must-do’s” for the trip with the exception of the Nemo show in AK.

Favorites

Bruce: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Soarin’/Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, Toy Story Mania/Tower of Terror, Kali River Rapids

Sandy: Buzz, Soarin’/Kim Possible, TSM, KRR

Mags: Splash Mountain, Kim Possible, TSM, KRR

Mo: BTMRR, Soarin’/Kim Possible, TSM, KRR/Kilamanjaro Safaris

As you can see, we really enjoyed the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. We did adventures in Mexico, Norway, and United Kingdom over 2 sessions. After the first adventure, we did NOT get an option to continue. Of course, the second time when we had less time we had an option to continue not once but twice. OH… almost forgot, on one day - the day we set aside to do KP, it was down the entire day.

Toy Story Mania was a big hit with us, but I might like Tower of Terror better overall. On TSM, I score the highest in the family, but I’m the least accurate. :huh:

Mags and I are water magnets. On our first trip on Splash, we were completely soaked at the first opportunity (when you are waiting to go up… next to those taking the plunge down). By the time we were done, it looked like we had a shower with our clothes on. The whole family rode Kali for the first time in quite a few years (Mo doesn’t like to get wet :pinch:), and sure enough we rotated down the plunge into the “soaked” sweet spot. :laugh:

For the first time, on our last day when we grabbed Fast Passes for Pooh, I got a “surprise” fastpass for Mickey’s Philharmagic. I was so giddy… and then we ended up being the ONLY people in the fastpass line when we used them; the show was easily a walk-on. :blush:

Also on our last day, we got to take the walk down Main St. before the park opened thanks to having early fastpasses at Crystal Palace. VERY nice.

If you can believe this, we didn’t have a single Photopass opportunity the entire trip. I was even considering buying it too. Had we received a card early in the trip, I would’ve sought out opportunities. Surprising.

Mo got her face painted in the Studios. Wow! It took about 5 minutes tops… they are so fast, and it looked cute. $12? Not bad at all by Disney standards.

On our “flex day” - the day when we knew we’d be in the parks, but not which ones - we did Studios then Epcot. We took the boat. It wasn’t quick, but it was nice trip with great views and it put us at the Showcase entrance which was a perfect fit with our plans.


#14

I remember the Rate & Review. I spent some serious time writing reviews for the restaurants in Disneyland. Sadly, upon the transfer from DC to MB, everything was gone forever…:angry:

So did it roll somewhere inaccessable?

Or did it surpass the five second rule? :confused:


#15

Kitchen Sink Part 1: The Rotten Morning

:nuke:Warning: Non-Magical Stuff Ahead :nuke:

On Tuesday, we hit rope drop at the Studios. Not surprising, our goal was Toy Story Mania. Yep, with 95% of the other people there…

Our tactic for the big attractions is that I hoof it to the Fastpass, grab 4, and then we all enter the stand-by line together. That’s the rule. It’s against Disney policy for someone to force their way through the line to join their party. That’s a form of line jumping.

Back to the stampede… I’m hoofing it, the curb is to my right, a lady with the stroller is to my left. See where this is going? For some reason, she veers to the right, I try to avoid, but she catches my left foot between the stroller front wheels and the curb. I went flying… landing on my right elbow and rolling to a stop right in front of tip board. The CM there checked on my well being, but I was a bit shaken up. The woman who knocked me down? Nowhere in sight. My elbow is still swelled and achy today, but I’ll live. I was more embarrassed than anything else. :redface: Obviously, this was not Disney’s fault in any way, but my mood was set.

Then I head to the Fastpass line… obviously behind “schedule.” I later found out that the Fastpass line should’ve been 15 minutes long; the ride would’ve been 20. Hrm. Should’ve been. At least 2 of the Fastpass machines broke down, including the one I was in. Communication from the CM’s was bad. We didn’t know if we should get out of our line or wait; we should’ve bailed to another line. The folks in front of me were told that they couldn’t get Fastpasses for some reason I didn’t hear, and the woman stormed off to Guest Relations instructing her husband to “not move.” Eventually, the CM was able to get him to stand to the side, but the machine didn’t work for me either. They tried to fix the machine multiple times… the CM finally took my park tickets to another machine to get my FP. It was 9:30.

While I was waiting in the FP line from heck, my wife was standing around the stand-by line waiting for me so that we could enter the line together. While waiting, my wife saw the CM at the stand-by line unhook the ropes to let people from the fast pass line “join their parties” who were already in line. This form of line jumping has been a huge pet peeve of mine for years… but this was the first time I’ve ever heard of CM’s actually helping the process. :mad:

For the first time in my 10 trips, I visited Guest Relations. I completely realize that their goal is to make the complaint go away, but I needed to voice it. We didn’t want anything other than to be heard, but the CM - very, very nice and agreed with everything we said even pointing out to us that we were describing “line jumping” - gave us fast passes to Tower of Terror and promised to call the TSM CM’s.

On Thursday, we were back at Studios at rope drop to do TSM. We simply walked to the stand-by line for a 15 minute wait. The CM managing the line was saying to keep your party together, but we noticed ~10 parties waiting in line for their fastpass member to join them and also noticed several people forcing their way through the line (although we didn’t notice any CM assistance).

IMO, the CM’s just turn a blind eye to this as it happens in nearly every attraction with FP at rope drop. We noticed it particularly in Soarin’ as well. Perhaps we shouldn’t follow the rule either. :confused:

Sorry for the bummer; things will improve from here, I promise. :blush:


#16

Kitchen Sink Part 2: Good Stuff!

For the first time ever… we got to ride in the front cab of the Monorail! :happy: On our last day, to get to our 8:05 ADR’s at CP, we had to take the Resort loop boat to the Contemporary and then either walk or monorail to MK. I completely geeked out.

I love 9 year olds imagination. Mo is always weaving tales… At some point she realized that ducks were everywhere, and she started telling us that this duck, “Carol”, was following her everywhere. Her husband “Cedar” would sometimes be with her, and sometimes there were other henchmen (henchducks?). What a great way to pass the time and keep things light.

Tables in Wonderland - which we bought on 3/20 - expires on 4/30/2010. What?!?! That’s a great surprise as we won’t have to renew the AP that we needed for our next trip (although I need to check on the rules/details).

Getting to ropedrops rocks! With the crowds, it was great to get so much accomplished in the first few hours. Our afternoon/evening trips were much less productive.

Sandy (hater of Rock-n-Roller Coaster) rode Everest and loved it! She agreed with my description of Everest as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on steroids.

Maura (hater of thrill rides) rode Tower of Terror and loved it! Now, let’s see if she rides it next time. :cool:


#17

I absolutely appreciate your restaurant reviews. I feel like we don’t see them presented as often like you did; complete review w/ratings, all in one post. I am so happy when someone takes the time to do that.

Haha, I agree about buffet bacon. ODD stuff. I crave bacon sometimes & NEVER keep it in the house 'cause that would just be dangerous but I generally loath buffet bacon. I was the real stuff, cooked well. It’s always SOOO hard & brown, even at Disney.

Love to see some pics! I appreciate your analytical nature but it’s way too verbal for me, I need some visual supports. :laugh:


#18

Well that was very kind, I am glad you were given some FPs for voicing your concerns. Awesome CM.


#19

This is how we operate on our trips & it works nicely. You can get SOOOO much done at opening and it’s refreshing to get out there early & start the day. We are both naturally early risers, thank goodness, but we LITERALLY basically spend the hours between noon through about 4pm back at our resort, catch dinner & go back into the parks at night.


#20

OK, I have a question. I read somewhere, I think it may have been in the restaurant reviews that you guys didn’t eat many counter service meals b/c you’d eat breakfast at the resort, just snack, & then eat a nice dinner. Now, was this at Roaring Forks every morning? How was breakfast there? What kind of stuff did you guys get for breakfast?

We usually eat a quick banana & yogurt or something in our villa and then we are STARVING for counter service lunch by 10:30 am 'cause we’re out walking so much in the early morning! I wonder if we tried the same thing you guys did if we’d hold out better all afternoon.