life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, September 9, 2011

Disney Trip report part 1

As you may know, after many years of being divorced, my ex husband and I have reconciled and have done some traveling together recently. We honeymooned in Disneyworld in 1987, and though I've been to Disney and Universal many times since, my ex (who I'll call "the pirate king" for this trip report) had never been back.

So when we decided to go, he let me do most of the planning. I think I did OK.

Rather than give you a day by day itinerary, I think that what I'll do is give comments on various topics.

The weather: Just as we were leaving for the airport, the pirate king's buddy asked us "do you guys have insurance? Hurricane Irene is in the Caribbean and it's aiming towards Florida." Ironically, while Irene dominated the news the entire time we were in Central Florida, the storm posed more of a danger to our friends and family back home on Long island than it did to us. In fact, although we were not directly affected by the storm, we had to book car service to take us home from the airport at the end of the trip because the friend who was supposed to pick us up got stranded in Las Vegas.

We also missed the excitement of an earthquake. Instead, we got typical "Florida in the summertime" weather -- very hot, very humid, with short periods of rain almost every day.

Accommodations: We spent one night in a budget motel inKissimmee , 4 nights at Disney's Coronado Springs and 3 nights at Loew's Royal Pacific. first, the budget motel -- Studio 6 Orlando - Kissimmee . Not bad for the money. We had a lovely room, could have comfortably stayed here the whole trip if need be. There was a living room, a kitchenette with table and chairs, a decent bathroom with the sink in a separate area, and a bedroom with king sized bed.

Coronado Springs. I've stayed in deluxe resorts, value resorts and moderates, so I knew what to expect. I loved the Mexican theming. We checked in at 7 AM and our room was ready. Even better, the upgrade fairy struck, and we got a water view when we'd booked a garden view! We were in Cabanas, and our view was of a smaller lake behind the buildings. Since we did the parks commando style, we never saw much of the resort, but what we did see what gorgeous.

Royal Pacific: I'd stayed at Portofino Bay several years ago, so I knew that this hotel would be beautiful, too. The theme here is a combination of Polynesia and Indonesia. the staff wear leis and greet you with "aloha". but the decor...well, I expected Dorothy Lamour in her sarong and Hope and Crosby in their "Road to Bali" costumes to show up at any minute. by the time we got here we were exhausted, and so we spent some time relaxing at the resort instead of dashing around the parks. The pool area is well themed, you'd think you really were in Bali if you didn't see the top of Dr. Doom over the tops of the palm trees. Great activities for the kids -- games all day and a movie at night -- but I would have liked the option of a quiet pool a la Disney.
we had a garden view room, and all we could see was foiliage!

The parks: both parks managed to entertain us and hold our interest. Disney is clearly more "magical", Universal clearly edgier. We loved them both.

Disney: We visited all 4 theme parks from Monday-Friday. Crowds were moderate, we toured "commando style", made good use of extra magic hours, fastpass and single rider lines. We focused on rides and generally skipped shows, and consequently managed to see everything a lot faster than I'd planned. the only time we had to wait more than 20 minutes for a ride was during extra magic hours at EPCOT, when our wait for Soarin' was over an hour.

that was also the night I encountered the incredibly rude parents. the young boy was a bit rambunctious and accidentally kicked me, hard enough to leave a bruise. Mom told him to behave, but never told him to apologize to me.

Monday morning was Animal Kingdom, Monday afternoon and evening EPCOT. Tuesday morning was EPCOT, then Magic Kingdom in the afternoon and EPCOT again in the evening (extra magic hours). Wednesday was Magic Kingdom, Thursday was Hollywood Studios and we finished on Friday with Animal Kingdom.

Favorite rides: Expedition Everest, Rockin' Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain. Most disappointing ride: Kali River Rapids. Not only was the Popeye ride in Islands of Adventure better, the version at our local Six Flags was superior. The theming was good, but the ride was too short and not exciting enough. Hated the Enchanted Tiki Room -- very retro, very sweet, very dull. Nice place for a nap. Loved the updates to Star Tours (same simulator, new video and special effects) and the Haunted Mansion. Mission space -- I chickened out of the Orange team and rode Green, and the king rode Orange -- told me I made a wise decision. Loved toy Story Mania. Loved watching the pirate king's reaction on the Great Movie Ride, as he realized why we saw certain movie trailers during the pre-show.

I think I prefer Spectromagic to the Main Street Electrical Parade, but I love the current version of Wishes. I'm not crazy about Illuminations, but Fantasmic is always fantastic -- and I like how you can see some of the Illuminatins fireworks from the Fantasmic amphitheater.

A funny thing happened while we were on the Small World ride. (We HAVE to ride IASW, we both saw this ride at the 1964 World's fair). We were sitting in the boat, waiting to dock at the end of the ride, when we saw a squirrel running around on the floor near the water's edge. Poor thing looked terrified! He wound up in the water. yes, squirrels do know how to swim.

The 15 year old girl we saw on line at Peter Pan. She was wearing a skimpy blue and white striped camisole top.She was wearing a very wide white patent leather belt around her waist. the effect was to pulll the neckline down so low that her ample cleavage was very much on display. Unfortunately, in the ack -- her entire bra was visible. and it wasn't a cute little number from Victoria's Secret, it was a heavy-duty Platex 18 hour bra.

We rode Pirates of the Caribbean during a thunderstorm, and the ride went down. Got stuck on the ride for 25 minutes! they actually killed the soundtrack for awhile. Never did see the Jack Sparrow street performer outside the ride -- he was so good when I was there in 2008.

For the most part we traveled around the World in our rental car. (The king was our pilot, and I navigated with the GPS in my Droid.) That's how I managed for find $60 (three $20 bills) in a half-empty parking lot after the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Took the monorail from EPCOT to Magic Kingdom, but wound up on a bus back to EPCOT later that evening because of mechanical troubles on the monorail. We were 30 minutes late for our ADR at San Angel, but we were seated anyhow. In fact, the only time we had to wait for a table in a sit down restaurant was in Sci-Fi Dine In, when we arrived 10 minutes early and were not seated until 20 minutes after our ADR time.

And as for the food: We did the dining plan, but wouldn't do it again . Sometimes I'd rather have an appetizer than dessert, but the plan has no flexibility. Loved San Angel and Restaurant Marrakesh -- though I was so disappointed in Marrakesh when the musicians started their break right after we ordered dinner and didn't start playing again until we finished dessert. Sci-Fi was fun, and Tony's -- well, I've got a soft spot for "Lady and the Tramp". Counter service meals -- Flame Tree was good, but it was better when I ate there in 2008. The burgers at Electric Umbrella were disappointing. Cosmic Ray's is always fun, and we liked the pizza at Pizza Planet. But only in Disney can a bottle of Dasani water be considered a "snack".

Loved our breakfast at Chef Mickey's -- only place in Disney where we actually posed with characters.

We did spend some time at Downtown Disney, the night we arrived in Florida and the day we left. Bongos was OK for dinner, but our lunch at Rainforest Cafe was much better. With the live fish in the tank and the animatronic elephants and gorillas, you can see why they are part of Disney.

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