Brumcg's 2010 Trip Report (3/19 - 3/27)


#1

Howdy folks,

I hope you don’t mind me coming out of lurk :ph34r: mode for a trip report. We just returned from our 2010 Spring Break trip to WDW from 3/19 through 3/27. It may have been the best trip that we’ve ever had… despite a few bumps along the road.

I’ve done a non-standard trip report for a long time now due to the more relaxed pace of our recent 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. At the end, I’ll post some pics. Later, I’ll also post some too-detailed restaurant reviews, and I’ll also do a seperate thread on our experience at the Bay Lake Tower Member Event.

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 45), my wife Sandy (age greater than me), my daughter Mags (age 18), and my daughter Mo (age 10).

Food is, of course, still a huge priority for us… so I’ll do that first.


#2

Yay Bruce!
Let’s go…


#3

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 love the flexibility of TiW; we did the Disney Dining Plan once, and it just didn’t work for us.

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. I’m just including my rating here; I’ll add the rest of the family’s ratings to the detailed review thread. All meals are dinners unless indicated.

Whispering Canyon (2 :mickey:): I always make the same mistake and order the skillet. The rest of WC’s menu is just not that appealing to me. The ribs were very dry and the brisket was rubbery; the chicken and beans were good. The restaurant was very crowded, and the service was very spotty particularly at the end of the meal.

Rose & Crown (1 :mickey:): I’m sorry to say, this is my second 1 rating (Bongo’s Cuban Cafe had the other). What a mess. I’ll go into more details in the detailed review, but the short version is that our reservation was deleted AFTER we checked in and had a beeper in hand. Since we were waiting for an Illuminations table, we just thought it was taking a long time. When we were finally seated (40 minutes after our ADR time, and 50 minutes after checking in), I was told during Illuminations - 25 minutes after ordering - that my appetizer wasn’t currently available and would need 10-15 more minutes. We’ve eaten at the R&C several trips in a row and have never had an issue; this was inexcusable. When I finally did get my Bangers & Mash, it was actually quite good… but there were issues with my family’s food.

Fulton’s Crab House (3.5 :mickey:): I really wanted to like Fulton’s, but it just fell a bit flat with me. Service was very good. My food was good (Crab Cake appetizer, and a Tuna entree), but frankly did not live up to the big bill. Great wine selection.

Artist Point (4 :mickey:); Artist Point is one of my favorite places to eat, but I felt like it was a bit disappointing this year. My mussels were excellent, but my buffalo strip steak was merely good. I will say that Mo’s pork chop was simply outstanding… I wish I would’ve ordered it (but at least I still got some :blush:). Service was very good and friendly. That’s my favorite thing about Artist Point; I find it to be upscale, but very accomodating to everyone.

Ohana (3.5 :mickey:): Very rushed service; the Turkey and Shrimp were good; the pork and steak just okay. I’m not sure what cut of beef they use, but there were some tough pieces. The appetizers and sides were a mixed bag. It was at Ohanas that I had my first Habenero Lime Margarita that was on the standard drink menu we saw at most restaurants; that was very tasty!

Crystal Palace (4 :mickey:): We did the 8:05 breakfast seating, so we got to walk down Main St. before park opening. The kids are less and less into the characters each year, but the characters are still great trying to get them involved. I find Crystal Palace to be a consistently good top-notch buffet; standout items included excellent fresh fruit, the french toast, the smoked pastrami-style salmon, and multiple interesting potato dishes.

LeCellier (5 :mickey:): Great service! My Duck 3 Ways appetizer may have been the best thing that I ate on the trip. I had a veal t-bone that was good, but I would probably not get it again. I ate most of Mag’s Maple Creme Brulee dessert, and it was wonderful. I also ordered a side of Poutin (french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds) which one of my buddies raves about whenever he goes to Canada; um… it tasted like french fries with brown gravy and cheese. I don’t get it. :glare:

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (5 :mickey:): Hoop is one of my very favorite things to do at WDW. It’s more about the entertainment than the food, but I would point out that the ribs were far superior to the Whispering Canyon’s ribs. I don’t know, I just really like the food here and the sangria… of course. The show is always great which amazes me every time… I really thought that I would get tired of it after seeing it once.

Tokyo Dining (5 :mickey:): 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. We shared some rolls for an appetizer, and as normal I ordered the Shinjuko Gozen (a sashimi and tempura combo); excellent. Now, they are even on Tables in Wonderland, so it’s 20% better. :laugh:

Plaza Restaurant (3 :mickey:): On our last day, we realized that we had time for a final lunch so we booked a last minute ADR. This was my first time at the Plaza. It’s great for a quick, tasty meal at the Magic Kingdom, but I guess I’m looking for more than that. I did appreciate the no-sugar added shakes. Our server disappeared for about 10 minutes… perhaps one of our sandwiches required more time? My club was good.

We didn’t do many counter service meals. Breakfast at the resort (we’re DVC so we have a kitchen) and dinner with some snacking worked best for us. There were a few food items outside of sitdown restaurants that deserve mention…

Dole Whip: Mags is addicted to Dole Whip… She managed to get there three times during the trip, and now wants to stay at the Poly since they have a machine on-site. :slight_smile:

Mags and I hit Epcot one day by ourselves, and we ate at both Tangierine Cafe and Yakitori House; excellent counter service food!

We also hit the Refreshment Port in the World Showcase; I’d avoid this place. We ordered Empanadas and Tostones. They were simply deep frying pre-packaged frozen food, and it tasted like it.

Territory Lounge… For the first time in many years, Sandy and I got some alone time in the Wilderness Lodge bar on two nights. The service - from Kristin - was just great; so friendly and relaxed. Great drinks too.


#4

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… Um, at least, I think we’ll try somewhere else. :blink:

We had a 1-BR villa on the 2nd floor (2451) which faced a… well, it was a swamp. They had a downpour before we arrived and another early in our stay, and the water wasn’t going anywhere. I think this also started to become a problem area for insects and it seemed like we either had pests or a slight smell of insecticide when we were on the balcony.

I’ll mention Ranger Stan here. Stan was at the Wilderness Lodge from its opening until he retired in October 2009. You don’t replace cast members like Stan… we’ll always miss him. I did ask about him on our last day and found out that he’s doing well… and actually had stopped by for a visit during the week. :pinch:

Mo went swimming 3 times during the trip; I went once. The pools don’t have many bells and whistles, but they fit in perfectly with the resort theme. Still, when I see the elaborate pools at the other properties, I do wish they would come up with something new for the Lodge or the Villas.

We were that family that got to the transportation queue right when the bus or boat was pulling up nearly every time. I do hate the WL to Epcot bus, though… If you have any wait at all, it can be 45 minutes from bus stop to park entry (it’s 10 minutes from Epcot to WL).

Except for the restaurants and lounge, we didn’t have much interaction with the WL cast members. The airline check-in folks were a bit of a mess on our departure day (they blamed it on slow computers), but thankfully we didn’t have any issues.

I was very happy, though, with the cleanliness in and around the resort; I thought it needed some TLC, and I felt like it received it.


#5

I’ve never tried dole whip. I always thought it would taste gross. So i guess from your review you would suggest i try it? :slight_smile:


#6

oh yes, you have to try it at least once!!:pirate:


#7

Our normal park schedule is to hit 2 parks each day… bailing on the first when we’ve either accomplished what we wanted or the crowds force us out. We did 1 session at the AK, 2 (kinda) at Studios, 4 at MK, and 3 at Epcot (Mags and I did 4). 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.

For the first time ever, we scheduled 2 down days (Monday and Thursday). It worked out wonderfully for us. Basically, we’d hit the parks for 2 days and then take 1 off. Not only did it make for a more relaxing trip, it also engergized our park-going days and we found that we didn’t take a mid-day break (the weather helped with that too). We got so much accomplished.

Favorites

Bruce: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, Tower of Terror, Kilamanjaro Safaris

Sandy: Haunted Mansion, Soarin’, TSM, Kilamanjaro Safaris

Mags: Splash Mountain, Kim Possible, Toy Story Mania, Expedition Everest

Mo: BTMRR, Soarin’, TSM, Kilamanjaro Safaris

We did the three Kim Possible adventures that we missed last year. I think they are so fun and clever. We also found out that each adventure has a mix of clues so that there is some replayability. I’d love to see them add more.

Mo and I rode BTMRR 10 times each. In the morning at rope drop, it’s a continous walk-on. The one morning Mags and I rode Splash and BTMRR 3 times each. Nice!

We did a number of firsts… The American Adventure, Hall of Presidents, and Theater in the Wild: Nemo all fell into that “glad that I did it, I don’t need to do it again” category. A more dissapointing first, for us, was the Studio’s Afternoon “Parade” (the Block Party Bash). We made a special trip to see it on our “flex” day. We tried to watch it from Hollywood Boulevard… but the sidewalks become an absolute zoo during the “bash” with all of the people watching, entering, and leaving the park. In addition, since it’s not a traditional parade you really don’t get to see anything other than what is right in front of you. I’m not a big parade guy, but I like this format even less.

We only missed a few things on our list… I think most of them from Animal Kingdom. It started pouring early in the afternoon we were in the AK and kept going most of the day, and we never made it back. The rest of our weather was just great.

The Epcot Flower and Garden Show was very nice; everyone really enjoyed the Fairy Garden. Hint: if you are looking for Silvermist, she’s kind of hiding in the back by the play area.


#8

I agree.

I also agree that it sounds like pretty weird/gross stuff, but it somehow is very tasty. :happy:

Bruce


#9

Of course we don’t mind you coming out of “lurk” to post a TR. I love your TRs! I am so excited for more.

Keep it coming and thanks for sharing.

Lisa

PS I vote for the dole whip too!


#10

Kitchen Sink

Really, I’m down to one pet peeve at WDW… It rears its ugly head mostly at Toy Story Mania and Soarin’. The rule is “keep your party together”; that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to have one of your party get fast passes, grab breakfast, ride other rides, hit the restrooms, take a nap, whatever and then force your way through the line to join the rest of your party. By definition, that’s line jumping.

At TSM, however, what gets my goat is that the cast members ENABLE the behavior by literally turning their heads when someone is doing it or worse… actually help them by unhooking queue ropes. So, for the second time ever and for the same exact reason, I went to Guest Relations on my way out of the park and tried to register my complaint. The cast member - and I can’t believe I didn’t get his name - was clueless to what we were telling him; I really almost felt like he was told if he acted befuddled that people would walk away. :blink:

We had another weird incident when we were heading to AK for rope drop and the bus sat at Grand Floridian for 3-5 minutes. It turns out that we were waiting for one member of a party who wasn’t with his family. Bwuh? :ohmy: I’ve never seen that before (nor do I want to see it again). We missed rope drop by 3-5 minutes…

I’ll post on this seperately, but we attended the Bay Lake Tower DVC Member event. Wow… it reminded me more of a Timeshare sales pitch than what we experienced when we looked into DVC back in 2001. Avoid unless you are ready to buy or add points.

As of this moment, my camera is missing. I’m 95% sure that the camera was in my carry-on bag in the room at the Villas; my daughter took all of the pictures with her camera so I never needed it. I’m hoping that I flaked and the camera is still here at home (but obviously I haven’t found it) or maybe it somehow fell out of my bag during the flight to Orlando. If not, that would mean that the camera disappeared IN the room… and I’m just finding that hard to believe. :frown:

On the good side…

I’m not sure if this is a change or not, but for the first time we noticed many cast members were retirees some of whom were wintering in Florida. I know with cutbacks that full-time positions have become more scarce. With those parameters, this is a great resource to tap into.

I finally broke down and bought my first Vinylmations. So of course, my first two were the same. I’m sure there’s a trading resource out there, though, so no worries. I really dig them.

The family bought some “plant” stuff… a bonsai tree and some “test tube” plants sold as part of the Flower and Garden show. We’ll have to see if we can avoid our “black thumb” curse.

Mags bought some giant Gummy Bears in Germany. They must be a pound each. Hilarious, the nutritional label lists them with a serving size of 1 piece at 1120 calories.

For the first time, we caught the Electric Water Pageant from the beach at Wilderness Lodge. Fun!

DME was smooth on both legs of the trip.

Sandy and the girls had much fun designing their own t-shirts at Downtown Disney.

Lessons learned…

Don’t assume that after you have successfully checked-in at a restraurant that things can’t still go awry. If you think your wait has been too long, ask…

We had several big bills for meals: Fulton’s, Artist Point, and LeCellier (and Hoop although I don’t really count that). I don’t mind one splurge, but three is probably too many.

Whew. That’s all that I remember right now. I’ll be back with some pics when they are ready.

Thanks for reading!


#11

It’s always fun to read a Bruce TR because you give great reviews! Hopefully you will find your camera soon.

I’ve never been on the DVC tour, but for a decent gift like the fast passes I may put up with the sales pitch.:blink:

That’s great that you got to experience the electric water parade on this trip. It’s a true Disney gem and I still love it.:heart:

How did your 18 do on the trip? I have an 18 year old as well who is off to college next fall. I told her that her father and I may take a short trip to WDW without her when she goes off to college, and if looks could kill well I would be …


#12

Ah… This was an undercurrent on the trip. She’s grown up on WDW and still loves it, and she’s my thrill-riding buddy. We think her college spring break will be the same as her sister’s spring break next year, so I really hope that it works out for 2011. Her college will be changing from quarters to semesters in the 2011-12 school year, though, so it’s unlikely schedules will synch after that. :crying:

I’m not sure if we’ll switch to summer trips (which I don’t like) or not, so I might be facing the “if looks could kill” look too.

Bruce


#13

Errrr…this is Dopey speaking through Marti…

Thanks for the trip report, Bruce.
Very detailed as usual


#14

No. They’re gross. :laugh:


#15

Hey, Bruce, you lost me when you mentioned the mussels at Artist Point. You see, I had to take some time off to daydream and drool… one of my favorites! Thanks for the report.


#16

[QUOTE=brumcg;1026086].

The cast is myself (age 45), my wife Sandy (age greater than me),.[/QUOTE]

Are you BEGGING to sleep on the couch?:laugh:


#17

[QUOTE=brumcg;1026099]
I also ordered a side of Poutin (french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds) which one of my buddies raves about whenever he goes to Canada; um… it tasted like french fries with brown gravy and cheese. I don’t get it. :glare:.[/QUOTE]

Poutine is best eaten outside, purchased from a poutine cart, usually at a festival of some kind. After a couple of beers. So you’re not obsessing about the calories, carbs and fat. But they are :wub:

I agree with the rest of your reviews.:happy:


#18

I always love reading your trip reports…and this one is no exception!:happy:

Looking forward to more and to see some pictures, I hope you find your camera too.


#19

Bruce -

your trip reports are always great. It’s the format. I love the highlights!

I couldn’t agree more with the line-juimping. It really ticks me off. funny that at TSM they allowed and enabled it. They were so “militant” with it last February. Once Cm actually did not allow a person in the queue and made them get in line. Everyone in the line kinda followed what the CM said and the party that was waiting came to the back of the line for the stray person. It goes to show that the CM sets the standard sorta.


#20

[QUOTE=llama;1026239]Poutine is best eaten outside, purchased from a poutine cart, usually at a festival of some kind. After a couple of beers. So you’re not obsessing about the calories, carbs and fat. But they are :wub:

I agree with the rest of your reviews.:happy:[/QUOTE]

LOL! I’ll keep that in mind for the next time, that makes total sense.

Bruce