Just Got Home! - Trip Report of 1/22/11 to 1/29/11


Right now it’s 10:25 am on 1/30/11…and we’ve been home about 5 hours now. Thought we’d have left much earlier in the day, but the party we were with decided to use most of yesterday to do their final shopping for their kids, so what can you do?

Anyway, we are very glad to be home, although who really WANTS to leave Disney World? Not us. We all had a very good time down there, despite things like chillier-than-usual weather, a problem with cancelling a reservation for the Spirit of Aloha meal, a tremendous amount of South American tourist groups clogging the streets and attraction lines, and one evening of heavy rain.

We got to see and do a lot of our normal favorites: Expedition Everest, Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain, Dinosaur, Peter Pan, Mickey’s Philharmagic, MuppetVision 3D, Haunted Mansion, Tower of Terror, Test Track, Mission Space, Rock n Roller Coaster, etc…etc…etc…

…and we got to do some new things as well such as Fantasmic, Captain EO, dining in Germany and Morocco, Tom Sawyer Island, Beauty & The Beast Live, Lights-Motors-Action Stunt Show, Flights of Wonder. (More comments on some of those things shortly…)

There were actually two parties of us who went down at the same time. My wife, myself, and than a single friend, and a friend with her two children all stayed at the Polynesian. I was able to fax in a room request about 4 days before we left and we ended up getting it fulfilled: I asked that they possibly give us the same room that my wife and I honeymooned in back in 2003, and our friends were in a connecting room just next door. The other party was my parents and younger brother and they stayed at Saratoga Springs. We ran into them a few times and had dinner together once or twice as well.

I just have some random observations to make about our experiences this trip:

(1) THANK YOU for whoever came up with the single rider line! It was the reason why I was able to ride Test Track, Rock n Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest 5-6 times in a row within a very brief time span. Now if only they could come up with it for Toy Story Midway Mania…there’s a thought.

(2) CURSE YOU! to whoever came up with the idea of Disney pin trading. I suppose it’s great fun if you’re into it, but if you’re with a party of people who mostly are not, and you’re stopping every 10 feet to look at a cast member’s set of pins or run over to a pin station, it can be INCREDIBLY annoying.

(3) The dining reservation people and resort front desk people need to start getting on the same page as far as what they can and can’t do for people with dinner reservations. One morning I called well beyond 48 hours in advance to cancel our reservations for the Polynesian Luau (given how cold it had been there during the week none of us wanted to eat dinner outside) and the girl on the phone was like “well you need to call at least 48 hours ahead of time or you will be charged $333.45 for cancellation, or you can just wait until the day of the reservation and see if the luau gets cancelled that day or not”. That was a completely load of garbage, and it made my wife so angry that she started crying. The girl was so uncaring and uncooperative we ended up just hanging up the phone. So after that we left the room to head to the monorail, and ended up walking to the front desk just to see if they could do something about it there, and the woman at the front desk couldn’t have been more nice and understanding. We explained the situation in about 30 seconds, and within 10 seconds of that, she cancelled our reservation and wiped out any cancellation penalty.

(4) We’ve gone around this same week a year or two ago and never saw so many South American tour groups as we did this one time. Normally I wouldn’t care, because everyone’s welcome to go to Disney, but when they clog up the walkways doing nothing but chit-chatting or trying to figure out where they are or where they need to go, it gets rather irritating. It also gets annoying when they try and argue things like wanting to have 3 people sit in a car at Expedition Everest (one family walked off because they were told they couldn’t do it), or not understanding that you have to move off the moving platform into a car and sit down to enjoy Buzz Lightyear.

(5) Dining in Morocco was agreed upon by ALL in our group as one place we would NEVER need to try again. The food was either disgusting or completely bland and tasteless. We did, however, try the Biergarten buffet in Germany as a last-minute use of our final sit-down meals and agreed that the food there was very good, as was the entertainment. Teppan Edo was good, but you get more (and better) food at our hometown Japanese steakhouse, and the same applies with San Angel Inn in Mexico. BUT…I will state definitively that I think the White Chocolate Mousse in Mexico is my favorite dessert in all of WDW. It is outstanding.

(6) Fantasmic is definitely NOT worth the wait. We ended up waiting an hour in the cold for a show that we all agreed wasn’t very good. We expected more pyrotechnics and fireworks and got a show that was 90% cartoon projection on water vapor with a few live characters here or there. And the middle section, as advertised, would have been terrifying if I was a small child. I’m sorry, but I do not see the appeal of this particular show at all. Both Wishes and Illuminations at MK and Epcot respectively are much better.

(7) I’ve never given Tom Sawyer’s Island a second glance, but the little girl in our group read something about going over and finding a hidden paintbrush and if you give it to a cast member when you leave the island you get a reward. She was rewarded one day with 6 fastpasses to ANY attraction in MK, and the next day with 6 fastpasses to BTMR. So that was a nice little surprise.

(8) Bus transportation continues to be HORRIBLE in Disney World. One morning a member of our party had to stay behind at the Poly and catch up with us in Epcot later. So when she decided to head out to the bus stop, she ended up sitting there for 45 minutes with every other imaginable bus stopping by except the one for Epcot. She ended up going to the monorail and riding it around to the TTC and switching to the Epcot monorail. We even noticed a problem with that ourselves, how you can be at the TTC or any park waiting on a particular bus to come and watching as multiple buses for one place after another come by while yours takes forever.

(9) Was the MuppetVision 3D show changed to take out the Swedish Chef’s cannon from the back wall? The rest of the show itself looked cleaner and brighter, but the cannon no longer appeared at the back at the end of the show.

(10) Captain EO is a terrible attraction, but I’m glad to have at least seen it once. It’s funny how one day you can walk past and see all the fastpasses for it are gone, and the next day (literally), there is absolutely no wait for it and your theater is 1/2 empty.

(11) Soarin’ - which is already a great attraction - would be even be better if the film was in high def. The film we watched was in pretty rough shape with all kinds of spots and little fluttering things on the screen.

That’s about all for now. I think, however, that when my wife and I go back again, it’ll be by ourselves. That way we’re not dependent on the whims of a big group (or the coddling of every “I want this” demand of the children) as to what we’re doing or where we’re going. We again had a great time but we’re glad to be home again too. Hopefully the next time we go the Fantasyland renovation will be completed and we’ll have an even better time.


It looks like you had a good time!

I know I feel the same way about traveling in a large group. My DH and I look forward to spending more time in the parks with it just being our family instead of a group next time we go. We enjoy being with others part of the time, but it can be frustrating trying to get some momentum going when you travel with a large group.

Glad you are home safe and sound! Now it’s time to start planning the next trip! :slight_smile:


Loved your TR, refreshingly honest, and I agree with you on many points (Fantasmic etc!) thanks for sharing- any photos??


Silent Rascal, glad you had a good time. To comment on your reviews-

  1. YES! absolutely
    2)I like to buy a few pins here and there to keep as souvies, not to trade. Some enjoy it though.
  2. So glad your ressie got straightend out and your weren’t charged.
  3. We noticed the unusually lrg Brazillian groups with “limited” supervision this past summer. I don’t mind the groups as long as there’s enough adults to help control the rudeness of the teens, which in our case there weren’t.
  4. Really? Wow, we enjoyed Morrocco, and Mexico.
  5. I sooo agree with you on Fantasmic. I recommend seeing it once but have no desire to ever wait to see it again.
  6. We :heart: TSI. On one anni trip we found the paintbrush and were given a front of the line pass to Splash or BTMRR. Since BTMRR was down for refurb, Splash it was. We make a point to look for it on every trip now.
  7. Next time you stay at Poly just walk the short path to TTC and catch the Epcot Rail. Will take no time at all.
  8. The cannon was there last summer
  9. Capt EO was good for it’s time, as was Honey I Shrunk. But the time for both have passed and hopefully something a little more high-tech will be coming soon to that location.
  10. I didn’t notice the glitches in Soarin last year, i’ll have to look this year.
    Thanks for all you info so far. Need some pics!:laugh:


I agree with you about the south American groups. I have nicknamed them the heard and make Mooing sounds as they pass by. But they are incredibly annoying and rude. The DW and I were getting food at the Yak & Yeti quick service and some of them were just standing in the line and ordering anything so I had to speak up to get them to move. These groups need much more supervision.


honest trip report,but while I tend to agree on fantasmic,it is is stilla good show,not the same ambiance as DLR’s version,but given the technology that world of color has brought to front ,I expect fantasmic to be reworked,with more variations…others have said it seemed liek you had a good time,unless I am wrong not much went right…the south americans,are still annoying but here it comes I live in CA and if an isle gets blocked or someone just stands in the way,or if a child is unsupervised ,well lets just say it is a cultural thing and leave it at that…now don’t get mad at me for that it is just something I have noticed and not just at disney…


Glad the majority of your trip was enjoyable. We did our entire family several times which included 13 people. We did it about 3-4 times and that is the end of that. As much as you try to please everyone, you can’t. And, trying to meet up during the day or for dinner always has that one group that is never on time and causes a scene.

Now that we’ve abandoned the large group concept, we finally joined DVC and there are just my husband and I, and my daughter, son-in-law and grandaughter. This is much more enjoyable, but still no perfect. Grandaughter is only 2 1/2 and daughter and son-in-law like to sleep in. Not what we call a vacation. We were just there Nov/Dec and are headed back next week to do all the stuff WE didn’t get to do in Nov/Dec. Just the two of us to act like 2 little kids and run all over the place.

At least you can say you tried the large group and are now ready to do your own thing.


Very informative TR. I will have to remember to have my children look for the paintbrush. Pictures??? Please?


Welcome back!

Loved your review style. All said, it appears you had a good trip.

Thank you, I enjoyed reading.


Nice TR you make some good points… I just got the Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2011 Travel Guides and it says nothing about the Tom Sawyer’s Island paint brush hunt (unless i missed it:laugh:). I think this would be a good chance to take time out from the madness of the park.


It sounds like you had a nice enough time. Too bad you didn’t care for Fantasmic, to each their own. My family loves it and never misses it. Illuminations on the other hand…once was definitely enough. It all depends on what you enjoy.

I agree about traveling in a large group. We don’t ever want to do that again. It was fine once, but we had to go back a few months later just because it didn’t seem like we’d even been to Disney. We didn’t get to do things our way, so we didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as when it was just the 2 of us.



We have never done Tom sawyer Island either. I have heard about the paintbrush, but we just have never made it over to there. I definetly want to do it on our next trip!


TSI was always a nice spot to relax w/ a lemonade at Aunt Polly’s and watch everyone across the ‘crick’ while the kids explored. They enjoyed having time to themselves. Now that Polly’s is closed and replaced w/ vending machines and the kids are grown there is no reason to go over.


Welcome home!! Can’t wait for the entire report!


Some other observations:

  • I saw the video clips of the new Castle-photo-projection show and wasn’t impressed. I saw the same show in person this time and still am not impressed. The whole thing is cheap, cheesy, and cornball. Just seems like it’s something very lazy for Disney to do.

  • The young girl in our group had been wanting to do the Kim Possible missions in Epcot for a while before our trip and she got to do them. It was actually kind of fun going through some of the countries and finding those little hidden things like the “jade monkey” or the “singing steins”. If I was in my early teens I’d have been all over doing that too.

  • You really do never know when the animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris will hold you up or not. On our trip, we had to sit for a good 5-6 minutes while some HUGE white rhino decided to slowly walk in front of our truck in order to munch on some grass. It was amazing to be so close to such a beautiful creature. Good thing they’re relatively even-tempered and have poor eyesight.

  • The entertainment (along with the food) was very enjoyable at the Biergarten buffet in Germany. The guy playing Edelweiss with the cowbells was pretty good, as were some of the other things they did there. I had never really given thought to eating in Germany (as I had always associated their food with nasty sauerkraut and bratwursts and not much else), but the buffet was very good. I would be glad to go back there again.

  • A staple of our Disney trips is dinner at 'Ohana. But…this time our dinner wasn’t until 9:00 and our party agreed that it didn’t seem to live up to what we had already known about the place. One person got perfectly cooked chicken one time, and then it was bad the next piece. The skewers of shrimp made you have to take the tails off and work to eat it rather than just eat it right away, and some of the other parts of the meal weren’t all that great. So we’re agreed we’ll try for an earlier dinner the next time. I think this time we may have been the last sitting of the night. We came in well after they’d already been into the coconut races for the little kids and all that.

  • We did our normal runs into Club Cool a few times. Can’t they go out and get different kinds of sodas? It’s always the same thing from the same countries. Doesn’t Coke make products elsewhere besides the ones we’re already familiar with? My favorite is the Vegita-Beta.


Looks like you had a good time, good trip report. We go about this time every year and its seems that every year there are more South American groups.


We just got back from WDW (1/24 - 1/31) too. I thought the daytime weather was wonderful; yes, it was pretty cool in the evenings but not awful. I like touring the parks when it’s not too hot, and this was perfect. We managed NOT to get caught in the deluge on 1/25…it really poured! We were right outside The Flying Fish when it started and decided to see if they had a table available…which they did. It was a great meal!! Crowd levels were low; we did see several tour groups, but unlike other times, I didn’t think they were particularly loud or annoying. There also seemed to be a good number of chaperones, so it wasn’t just kids.
We usually go with one of our kids and their family, but this time it was just my husband and me…so we got to do the things they skip…all the movies in Epcot, Universe of Energy, Living with the Land. It was relaxing for a change:happy:
Next trip will be with two of our kids, their spouses, 2 two-year olds, and a four-month old. I don’t think I will be doing much relaxing on that one.


We usually go with one of our kids and their family, but this time it was just my husband and me…so we got to do the things they skip…all the movies in Epcot, Universe of Energy, Living with the Land. [/QUOTE]

It’s so nice not to have to worry about anyone else sometimes! There are so many great things to do at Epcot that many think is just “boring”. Glad you got to do everything you wanted.