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.