The Trip that Almost Wasn't - October 2011


#1

I hadn’t planned on a trip report for this trip mostly because I never finish trip reports but I thought I’d give it a go but with a slightly different approach. Instead of giving a blow by blow of our day to day activities, I will just give you my impressions of:

Where We Stayed
Where We Ate
What We Did
Food and Wine
Favorite Moments
Least Favorite Moments

First things, first. This trip changed its format several times and at one point was almost cancelled. The idea for the trip was to celebrate my mom’s retirement earlier this year. She didn’t want a party but my dad and I thought it needed to be recognized. We still had 10 lingering DVC points, $567 in Jetblue travel bank credits, 3 Annual Passes and a Tables in Wonderland card so we decided a WDW trip was just the way to celebrate.

My mom loves food and wine more than anything else so we decided to go during the Food and Wine Festival, of course! :laugh: The original plan was to stay 3 nights at Old Key West, using our leftover points and a cash reservation on the Deluxe Dining Plan. We thought we would try some signature restaurants and really live it up. We had reservations for Citricos, Yachtsman and Flying Fish with breakfast reservations at Crystal Palace and Kona Cafe. Then we planned to move to the Concierge Level at one of the Epcot resorts to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival for the last 3 nights. My mom has always wanted to try Concierge Level and with the Annual Passes we were able to snag a great discount at the Beach Club.

Well, since retiring, my mom has been having a lot of issues with her stomach (or so we thought). She’s had a barrage of tests and about a month before leaving for WDW, she was finally diagnosed as having a failing gallbladder which she will need to have removed. We considered cancelling the trip so she could move up the surgery but she couldn’t bear the thought of letting the airline credits and Annual Passes go to waste so we decided to go anyway. Since she had been feeling so nauseated all the time, we decided to nix the Deluxe Dining Plan and do less sitdown dining. Fortunately, her doctor was able to put her on some anti-nausea medicine which helped a little bit. Unfortunately, the week before leaving, we discovered that she has another health issue looming which is going to delay her gallbladder surgery anyway. She was glad that we didn’t end up cancelling the trip because by the time we reached this point, she was in desperate need of an escape from reality.

So we packed our bags and left Boston on Saturday, October 22 for 6 days in our very favorite place in the world!

Next up: Where we stayed!


#2

Always glad to see a TR, but I hope your mom is doing OK.


#3

Thanks, Jo-jo. She has another doctor’s appointment this week which should give us a better picture of what is going on. I appreciate the good wishes! :smile:


#4

Hope your mom is on the mend soon! Looking forward to your TR!


#5

Hope your mom is feeling better soon. Glad she got to go on her trip!


#6

Glad to hear your trip report but I feel badly for your mom. Why is it that when people finally can retire they end up having health issues!


#7

I love your TR Karen but was so sorry to hear of mum’s health problems please give her my good wishes for a speedy recovery.


#8

so sorry to hear about the health battles for your mom! hope the trip was great though, sometimes that break from reality is so needed!


#9

Glad you were able to get away! Can’t wait to hear more.


#10

Thanks for all the well wishes for my mom, everyone! I really do appreciate it. The poor lady has had a rough time since retiring so I hope they can get things straightened out soon!

Okay on to the report!

WHERE WE STAYED (Part One):

OLD KEY WEST (Saturday, October 22 through Tuesday, October 25) - We stayed in a Deluxe Studio. It was our first time staying at OKW and we were looking forward to it. Overall we enjoyed the resort but it wouldn’t make my list of favorites. Both rooms we stayed in (I will get to THAT later) were near the Hospitality House which was great.

What we liked:

Room layout - We loved the layout of the studio at OKW and that it had 2 beds ( I always get the pullout in the studios, so I especially appreciated that!) At first I thought the room shape was a bit odd but it actually really worked well. We missed the room layout when we moved to the Beach Club later in the trip.

Landscaping/Atmosphere - The resort looked lovely and was very relaxing overall

Bell Services - OKW had some of the best Bell Services CMs we have encountered at WDW. They were quick, helpful and very friendly. We had to use them more than we anticipated and they were fantastic.

What we didn’t like

Size/Transportation - I am generally not one to complain that a resort is too big and spread out. POR is one of my very favorite resorts. But OKW felt huge. We were near Hospitality House but it would have been miserable to be in one of the further away areas. I think the size wouldn’t have been such a big factor for a week long DVC trip where you get groceries delivered and spend a good amount of time in the room but we treated this more like a regular resort stay so we needed close access to the amenities and food. The bus rides to and from the parks felt very long (and again, I am used to and really like POR, a resort with multiple bus stops. I also didn’t like how much traffic you had to navigate while walking around. I think that was the main difference between the large size of POR and OKW. At POR, you have to walk down tree lined, beautifully landscaped paths and bridges to get to the main building. At OKW, we felt like we were always crossing streets and walking through parking lots.

Food options - We did have breakfast at Olivia’s one morning and enjoyed that but the quick service location (Good’s to Go) was always super busy and super slow. Maybe because it was free dining time and lots of people were using their dining plan there? We had breakfast there one day and it was just okay. We had lunch there another day and it was again, just okay. Not a ton of choices and the CMs needed to get a little pep in their step. The Gurgling Suitcase was also very small and had only one bartender so service was slow. I prefer places where the resort has a dedicated pool bar (What can I say? I like a fruity drink while I sit by the pool).

Lack of Elevators - This was not a huge deal for us but I could see it being a huge deal for someone with a stroller or someone with health or mobility issues. We were on the 2nd floor and had no elevator, something I hadn’t realized about OKW. Again, not a big deal for us, but it is nice to have the elevator option when moving all of your stuff.

What was just okay - The location was fine. We were actually not far from most of the parks so the bus rides once we got out of OKW itself were not bad. I also enjoyed the boat to DTD.

The pool was again just fine. They had lots of kids activities which was nice but they kept moving all around the pool with the games and activities. We set up shop near the end opposite the games but at some point they switched sides and I had to get out of the pool to avoid having to play “Critter Catch” LOL I really do like the kids activities at the pools but wish they would keep it contained to one section of the pool. The activities also went on for the entire time we were there (several hours) so there was always loud music playing or someone on a microphone giving instructions. We probably should have headed to one of the quiet pools, but we wanted to be close enough to the Hospitality House to grab lunch and a drink. Also the day we were there, the pool was pretty crowded with lots of jockeying for chairs. It seemed a little small for the size of the resort.

Overall thoughts - We liked OKW but didn’t love it. We had considered trying to stay there with our big family trip back in April because of the size of the villas but I was glad that we had stayed at Kidani instead after seeing how spread out the resort was. I often think of Saratoga and Old Key West as the same type of resort and if I had to choose between them, I would choose Saratoga. We kept saying how much we missed being able to walk to DTD from Saratoga. I would stay at OKW again but not as my first choice.


#11

Ergh. I just wrote up an elaborate review of our time at the Beach Club and then accidentally deleted it. :mad: I don’t have the energy to redo it tonight so I will have to update later in the week. Sorry everyone!


#12

I hate when that happens!! looking forward to reading more though :slight_smile:


#13

Best wishes to your Mom. I had to have my gallbladder removed when I was 18. Once it is gone you feel SO much better and she won’t miss it at all. Hope everything else is better soon.

Looking forward to more of your TR.


#14

WHERE WE STAYED (Part Two):

BEACH CLUB(Tuesday, October 25 through Friday, October 28) - My mom has always dreamed of staying on the Concierge Level and since this trip was sort of a retirement gift from my Dad and I, we decided to go for it. We were able to snag a 40% off rate at the Beach Club with our APs. We only booked a standard view but were surprised at check in with an upgrade to a lagoon view with a large balcony. We had prepared ourselves for a lovely view of a roof, but it was so nice to wake up to a view of Stormalong Bay every morning.

What we liked:

The Lounge - Staying on the concierge level made us feel very fancy! :laugh: We took advantage of the food offerings in the lounge, having breakfast there all 3 mornings of our stay. We also took advantage of the hot appetizers and wine and beer in the evenings. I loved the coffee/latte machine. I made myself yummy lattes every day, sometimes more than once. My mom really loved using her gold key to take the elevator to the 5th floor! :wub:It will be hard to go back to reality!

Cast Members - All of the Cast Members we encountered at the Beach Club were great. The lounge CMs were so friendly and accommodating. And the concierge CMs were very helpful. We felt like people were just waiting around to help us which was really special. One of the Concierge CMs (Jacob) was particularly helpful in dealing with a golf lesson we were trying to schedule for my dad.

Location, Location, Location- If my dad could move his house and all his belongings to the Epcot resort area, he would do it in a split second. :laugh: He really loves that area of WDW. We had planned to spend the last part of our trip just doing Food and Wine Festival so you couldn’t beat being able to walk from our resort back and forth to Epcot. Also, my mom realized that she was having some motion sickness issues on the buses and boats so she was relieved to be done with that once we moved to the Beach Club. We even used the walkway to Hollywood Studios for the first time this trip and we would definitely do that again.

The Pool- I am NOT a pool person. I sunburn easily and get major headaches when I spend too much time in the sun. My dad is the same way so our trips rarely include pool time. In fact, we stayed at the Beach Club once before and never stepped foot in Stormalong Bay. Shocking, right? :laugh: But my mom likes relaxing by a pool so we planned several chunks of time for that this trip. I know it has been said in a million places but Stormalong Bay is AMAZING. We scoped out a quiet, shady spot and really relaxed. We had almost no one around us even though the pool was pretty busy. It definitely felt more relaxing and less hectic than the pool at OKW. The food and drinks at Hurricane Hanna’s were also both good.

What we didn’t like:

There wasn’t much we didn’t like at the Beach Club. If I were forced to choose something, I would say that the hallways (particularly the carpets) are showing some wear and tear and could use replacement. Some of the rugs on our floor were in rough shape and made things feel a little less than deluxe. But that is being really picky.

Overall thoughts - We really, really enjoyed the Beach Club. Those 3 days were the best of our stay. Would we do Concierge Level again? Maybe. We would never pay full price for it but if we got another great deal, we’d consider it. Though the lounge was nice, it was not AS nice as I expected. The sitting area was quite small and there were never enough seats for everyone in the lounge, especially in the morning. However, it was great to just walk down the hall anytime you wanted a snack or drink. I think I would like to try Concierge Level at another resort to see if the setup of the lounge itself might be better elsewhere.


#15

I just wrote up a giant review of all the places we ate and deleted it accidentally before posting just like I did with my Beach Club review! This is turning into the most frustrating trip report ever! :laugh::angry:


#16

Great report! I write it in Word or Works and copy/paste into MB :slight_smile:


#17

I do the same thing!


#18

UGH…sorry for your trip report “technical issues”. I am so glad that you are pushing through. I love that you can walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios from BC…I didn’t know that before.


#19

Clearly this is what I should be doing! :laugh:


#20

Why don’t you type on a document instead and save it. then you just copy and paste it here. I would hate to have to re-type all that you did