Brumcg's June 2011 Trip Report (6/16-6/23)


#1

Howdy folks,

I’m emerging from my semi-lurk mode for a trip report. We just returned from our June trip which was rescheduled from our March disaster. It was one of the more interesting trips that we’ve had.

I’ve done a non-standard trip report for a long time now due to the more relaxed pace of our current 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. I’ll break the report down into food, the resort, the parks, and the kitchen sink. At the end, I’ll try to post some pics. I’ll also post some too-detailed restaurant reviews in a separate thread.

Our planning has also become more relaxed. We still make our ADR’s as far out as possible with everyone getting a pick and the rest done by votes. Our attraction list is pretty compact, and we don’t sweat it if we don’t get something accomplished.

The cast is myself (age 46), my wife Sandy (age greater than me), my daughter Mags (age 19), and my daughter Mo (age 11).

Instead of diving into the food first, like normal, I’ll talk about the resort first.


#2

So talk …


#3

Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village (vs. Villas at Wilderness Lodge)

We’ve been staying on property for 10 years now… but each time has been at our beloved Villas at Wilderness Lodge. Since we had to reschedule 3 months out, we had to be flexible and jumped at the chance to stay at Kidani Village.

We had a 1-BR Villa (room 7957); technically, it’s a non-Savannah view, but in actuality we had about 20-25 yards of savannah between the resort and a fence. We were able to see a variety of animals; it certainly was better than viewing a parking lot. On the other hand, cast members told us that our room was about 1/2 mile from the lobby. I think that may have been a slight exaggeration… but only slight. All of those extra steps really added up during the trip.

In comparing the rooms between AKLKV and VWL, it’s no contest. Kidani’s extra bathroom, the sleeper chair, huge balcony, and just a better use of space… it’s a clear winner. I like the style of VWL more, but Kidani is no slouch in that department.

The cast members were all great. The pool is excellent.

On the “con” list for Kidani, it just comes down to one thing… size. Having Sanaa as the only on property restaurant (including room service) isn’t the best situation. At VWL, I often walk over to the quick service and pick up some family breakfast to bring back to the room; taking buses over to Mara and back again… yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. I love hanging out in the VWL lobby. I didn’t really feel like walking all the way to the Kidani lobby… which I really didn’t think was that great anyway.

Transportation… wow. I don’t know what to say. We had many 20 minute waits for buses which may have just been bad timing. We also had a 35 minute wait from the MK to AKL, a 42 minute wait from the Studios to AKL (more on that later), and a 60 minute wait from the AKL to MK (partially explained by a wreck). To get to a Boardwalk ADR, it took us 90 minutes to get from our room to the restaurant. Admittedly, in retrospect, we should have gone to the Studios and taken the boat (or as Mags called it, “the floating sweat box”). Instead we went to DAK to the Boardwalk bus… which was actually the Swan to Dolphin to Yacht to Beach to Boardwalk bus. Yikes! Essentially 5 resorts in one bus?!? :eek:

I’m really glad that we tried another resort… but home is where the heart is. We just love Wilderness Lodge and the Villas. We’ll be back there in March 2012.


#4

Dining

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. It works so much better than the DDP for our family.

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.

Chefs de France (3 :mickey: ): Easily our worst experience here, everything (food and service) felt a notch down from our meals in the past.

Boma (3.5 :mickey: ): The desserts and veggie options were standouts.

Restaurant Marrakesh (4 :mickey: ): A big surprise! If I had ordered the tangine (grouper), it may have been a 4.5 or 5 for me. We haven’t eaten here in a few years after a couple mediocre experiences; I’m really glad we gave it another try.

Crystal Palace (4 :mickey: ): Breakfast. Always so solid, and a great setting.

Kouzzina (2 :mickey: ): Okay… some of the rating here is unfair because I ordered the wrong thing (whole fish)… but nothing was spectacular and it was a pretty large bill.

Le Cellier (4 :mickey: ): Maybe a little disappointing even though the food was technically good. Service not as good as usual.

Sanaa (3.5 :mickey: ): Not bad at all. Not very expensive, portions a bit smaller than most Disney eateries.

Sanaa (3 :mickey: ): Lunch. Not quite as good as dinner for me.

Tokyo Dining (4.5 :mickey: ): Only missed a 5 because the service was not as friendly as usual. This has become a family favorite.

Plaza Restaurant (3 :mickey: ): My family really likes this place much more than I do.

We did very little counter service. Most of the time it was a quick meal at the room and then one big sit down meal. Mags did get her Dole Whip.

We did spend a few hours in the Sanaa lounge too. On those hot days, I really enjoyed a Habanero Lime Margarita (or two!).


#5

Looking forward to more. I have been tossing around the idea of Tokyo Dining for our next trip, but my boys are pretty picky eaters, would you recommend it?More specifically, you mentioned it was a family favorite, what about it makes it a favorite?


#6

I hope you’re going to review the restaurants in depth! Looking forward to it!


#7

can’t wait to read more and to see pics


#8

That’s a tough one. As a family, we all like sushi but it’s not easy to get good sushi where we live… so Tokyo Dining is a nice treat for us. Both of my daughters love the Japanese culture, so I’m sure that plays into it as well.

Their base menu, though, is heavy on tempura (lightly fried meat, seafood, and veggies). We like that too. The Bento boxes are pretty safe. I just noticed that the Allears.net menus for Tokyo Dining are out of date. The new one seems to have more choices.

I have to be honest, though… If I had a picky eater, I’d probably look somewhere else.


#9

The Parks

I can’t really talk about the parks without talking about the weather upfront. My family has never done well with high heat, high humidity. Weather.com has our 8 days listed as highs of 97 for six of our eight days (with a 95 & 93).

So we went to the parks early in the day and late in the day. Sometimes we only lasted 2-3 hours, but they were normally very productive. I have to admit that we did much better than I thought we would; I think we were mentally ready for it.

We ended up spending only a few hours apiece at Animal Kingdom and the Studios. Each park has a few highlights for us, but neither is a “full day” park for us anymore. We spent a great deal of time at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Ride favorites:

Me: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Soarin’; Star Tours :eek:; Kali River Rapids

Sandy: Haunted Mansion; Soarin’; Toy Story Mania; Kilamanjaro Safaris

Mags: Splash Mountain; Soarin’; Tower of Terror; Expedition Everest

Mo: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Soarin’; Toy Story Mania; Kilamanjaro Safaris

I’m a rare breed (I think); I’m a casual Star Wars fan. I like it, but I don’t love it. I thought the new Star Tours, however, was great! I went back and did a solo trip on our down day just so that I could ride it three more times. I was so surprised.

We must have been on TTA (People Mover) about 10 times. It’s such a great way to kill 10 minutes or so.


#10

Kitchen Sink

Not much this time.

I’m still bothered by the number of parties that don’t enter the queues together (one part of the party gets in the line while the other part gets fast passes, eats lunch, takes a potty break and then pushes through the entire queue to join their party). Cast members seem unwilling to stop the behavior. Maybe I’ll just give up and join them.

Guest Relations at Epcot was wonderful. On our March disaster, we were not able to upgrade our Park Hoppers to no expiration because the ticket system was down. We thought everything had been straightened out… but found out that it wasn’t. Guest Relations worked with us to come up with a solution that just worked out great for us. Yay Disney!

Shoes! I haven’t had problems with blisters for 10 years… until this trip. My New Balance “style” had zoomed in price so I went with a cheaper Avia style… and I paid the price. Luckily, my sandals did a pretty good fill in job.

I always make at least one transportation gaffe each trip. While waiting in line for 42 minutes to catch a bus from Studios to AKL (on my solo trip), my wife called to say that I should meet them at Downtown Disney instead of coming back to the room. Of course, that’s right when the AKL bus pulled in. I got out of line to catch the “Downtown Disney” bus… but I thought I would stop at the transportation booth to give them my feedback on the length of time I waited for the bus. A nice cast member (Nancy) listened to me, agreed that the wait was unreasonable, and then offered to drive me to Downtown Disney… since no park bus goes directly to Downtown Disney. :blush: Oh, sheesh, how could I forget that. Not only did she drive me, but she gave me Soarin’ fast passes for the next day. That really turned a negative into a positive, but I have to admit that I feel guilty when I get things after complaining.

This happened to us once before… After our Kouzzina dinner, we got on the Animal Kingdom bus. The driver asked us where we were staying and took us directly to Kidani! That’s awesome!

In the line for Buzz fast passes, a cast member put a Mike Wazowski sticker on Mags back where it stayed for the whole day. Hilarious.

I think that’s it for now… I’ll do a Kitchen Sink part 2 if we think of more stuff.


#11

Enjoying the reviews! How was the wait time for the new Star Wars attraction?


#12

I never waited more than 10-15 minutes. All my riding was done before 10:30 though; maybe it starts to crowd up after people ride TSM, ToT, and R&RC?


#13

Enjoying your TR! Thanks so much for the info on dining, especially
Restaurant Marrakesh:happy: This is a new one for us and we are looking forward to something different.

With regard to TIW, do you usually order it ahead or wait until you arrive at WDW? We have decided to get the TIW card this time as it seems that, like your family, it meets our needs better than the DDP.


#14

great tr and I love your opinions and insights so more please and pics i have over 70 days to go. lol


#15

Keep the TR coming :slight_smile:


#16

[QUOTE=Peppertink;1081021]Enjoying your TR! Thanks so much for the info on dining, especially
Restaurant Marrakesh:happy: This is a new one for us and we are looking forward to something different.

With regard to TIW, do you usually order it ahead or wait until you arrive at WDW? We have decided to get the TIW card this time as it seems that, like your family, it meets our needs better than the DDP.[/QUOTE]

We are getting the TIW this trip as well, since I bit the bullet and ordered AP’s for us. But I can’t remember if you can order the card with just a voucher or if you need the actual annual pass. I know you can purchase the card on site, somewhere…:redface:


#17

[QUOTE=brumcg;1081009]That’s a tough one. As a family, we all like sushi but it’s not easy to get good sushi where we live… so Tokyo Dining is a nice treat for us. Both of my daughters love the Japanese culture, so I’m sure that plays into it as well.

Their base menu, though, is heavy on tempura (lightly fried meat, seafood, and veggies). We like that too. The Bento boxes are pretty safe. I just noticed that the Allears.net menus for Tokyo Dining are out of date. The new one seems to have more choices.

I have to be honest, though… If I had a picky eater, I’d probably look somewhere else.[/QUOTE]

Thank you for your input! :happy:


#18

This is music to my ears!


#19

You usually pickup the TiW card at guest relations inside the parks. I do not think you can pre order it.


#20

A CM advised me that it can be pre-ordered but that it’s probably best to wait until you check in since it’s valid from the day of purchase, not first use.
Our issue is that we are going to the Spirit of Aloha dinner show and we keep getting different answers about weather we need the card now in order to get the discount. The TIW CMs tell us that we can still get the discount now while the dining CMs tell us they aren’t positive that we’ll still get the discount if we don’t have the card now:huh: