Well, we’re home! We got back to our town around 1:30 Sunday morning, unloaded the car and headed home and our heads didn’t touch our own pillows in our own bed until around 2:00 am.
What a trip we just came back from…it certainly was a unique experience, I’ll put it that way. Our normal trip is just my DW and I (we have no children nor plans for any, either) and this time we had a single mother friend come along with her two children (ages 3 & 10), and another friend as well who stayed with them.
I will preface this official report by categorically stating that I will NEVER take another WDW with anyone who has kids under the age of 15. Period. I’m done with that. Between the constant “I want this, this, this, this…” in every park and every shop we stopped in (both kids) to the 10-year-old throwing a crying fit just as she’s about to go on a ride, and the mother not doing enough to disciple her kids, I was going out of my mind with aggravation. My wife was, as well.
Now…our vacation took advantage of the “buy 4 nights, get 3 free” deal that was going on and we managed to book a stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort (staying in the Aruba area) and we had the 7 day park hoppers and the dining plan as well. We drove down and back and I think it was a wise decision to refrain from going to the park right away. We got down on Saturday, 1/24 and decided not to use a day of going to the parks until our last day, yesterday 1/31…to kind of wear out the kids so they’d sleep on the ride back. We all pretty much agreed that we wouldn’t need to go back to the CBR again. Basically for the following reasons: (1) It was barely a step up from a Day’s Inn or EconoLodge, in terms of the quality of the rooms. (2) The beds were way too small, as well as the bathroom which was ridiculously tiny. (3) The food court was a joke, as was the distance we had to walk from our rooms just to get to it. Normally we’ll get a refillable mug from the resort we stay in, and this time we figured it just wasn’t worth it. If we wanted a hot chocolate or something, it would have gotten cold by the time we were 3/4 from getting back to the room. (4) We don’t care for the fact that the outside door to the room actually faces the outside. We feel more secure when you go into a building, down an inside hallway and then get to your room.
As far as the other parts of the trip are concerned, my wife and I are avid WDW-visitors and for the most part our other cohorts were first-timers. So we ended up doing a lot of “never done before” things on this trip. This includes the following:
“The Magic of Disney Animation” - (This was an ok exhibit. We mainly went in because the 10 year old was all about getting autographs and photos with as many Disney characters as she could find. I think she ended up with about 43, and picked up a bunch in here.)
“The Voyage of the Little Mermaid” - (Was my life changed by taking in this attraction? No. Was it enjoyable? Somewhat. Would I need to ever see it again? Not particularly.)
“Festival of the Lion King” - (Same thoughts as on “Little Mermaid” above.)
Coral Reef Restaurant - (Hands down, this was everyone’s favorite restaurant during our entire stay. We ate there for lunch early in the week, and decided to cancel a character breakfast later in the week when it turned very cold and rainy, and made another lunch reservation here. I got the grilled chicken breast since I hate seafood and my wife is allergic to it. The food was fantastic and the view of the aquarium while we ate was terrific. There were even a few divers in the tank coming up and fooling around in there for the little kids.)
Goofy’s Barnstormer - (I was surprised at how slightly wild this was for a roller coaster aimed at small children. But I’d never ridden it before and I see no need to again.)
Magic Carpets of Aladdin - (Ehhh. If you’ve done Dumbo, you’ve done this ride. No big whoop.)
Living With the Land - (All this time I’ve always dismissed it as some boring gardening ride/show. It was actually very interesting. I’d do it again…not as a “must see”, but something I’d go on again.)
During this trip I’d also done some attractions that I hadn’t been on in probably over 20 years, such as Small World, Jungle Cruise, Tea Cups, Tomorrowland Speedway. I don’t quite despise them as I had before, but I wouldn’t go on them unless I was with others who really wanted to. (But then we also didn’t have time to ride some of my usual faves, like Haunted Mansion or Test Track, but oh well.)
The weather during this week was terrific…up until late in the day on Thursday when the rain moved in, along with the cold. We’d been enjoying weather in the 75-80 range most of the week, with lots of sun, and then suddenly for Thursday and Friday (and Saturday morning) the temps only got from 50-60 and cold rainy drizzle.
The wait times for the rides were extremely manageable…except for Toy Story Mania. One morning we arrived at the park when it opened for the day and I got pushed along with the mob as the gate dropped and everyone went in, either to the ride directly or to the fastpasses. We managed to get 2 fastpasses and all enjoyed the ride greatly. I found that more than I was used to, the rides in the parks had longer POSTED wait times than the actual wait was itself.
And where did we eat this week? Besides the Coral Reef (twice), that is? We ate at 1900 Park Fare (dinner) where aside from the Strawberry Soup, it wasn’t very good food. The same went for the Crystal Palace dinner buffet as well. 'Ohana was typically great (although we were a party of 4 rather than 6 because the 3 year old got sick). We also at at the Electric Umbrella, Pinocchio’s Village Haus, Whispering Canyon Cafe, 50’s Diner, Lotus Blossom Cafe, and they were all good. I just don’t understand how they do things sometimes with the meal plan. In one place you could get ample refills even on shakes (Whispering Canyon) and in another (50’s Diner) you couldn’t. In some places they’d throw in a side salad, and in others someone in our party had to give up a desert in order to have a salad thrown in.
The 10 year old was particularly annoying when it came to rides she would adamantly refuse to go on (for no reason whatsoever), only to turn around later on and go back, try them, and absolutely love them (i.e. Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad). She even said the TTA gave her the “creeps”. She didn’t thrown her biggest tantrum until she nearly got on RnRC…crying and carrying on even until well after they’d exited and we got off the ride. The 3 year old was more than willing to try rides the 10 year old wouldn’t…i.e. Splash Mountain. But he had his moments on other things, particularly in not being able to get his ride on TSM when the wait was 70 minutes or not getting a toy in a store we went into.
But all in all…we had a very nice week with them all, particularly in watching them experience things for the first time that we’ve done countless times ourselves. That certainly was great fun. My wife and I are used to staying in places like the Poly, Wilderness Lodge, or the Boardwalk…so the CBR was quite a step down from them. My next goal is to stay in a tower room at the Contemporary at least once. But in this economy and with things getting tighter and tighter…I just don’t know when that can happen.
Looking forward to my next trip, though…