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  • Trip summary - without pictures

    We just returned from a 7-night stay at WDW, and I thought I'd post a description of what we did and maybe make a few comments along the way.

    We flew in on Southwest; cattle call boarding wasn't the greatest but we had printed our boarding passes and were in the first group, so it wasn't terrible either. We took the Magical Express, and it worked flawlessly. Bags were in our room by the time we got back from the park on our first day.

    We stayed at the Polynesian, which is our favorite. (We're a bit limited, however; we've only stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter besides Polynesian.) They had a room for us, but it was about as far as you could get from the main building, so when we asked if they could place us closer, the cast member looked - stating that they were at 100% occupancy for that night - but found one, in Samoa, next to the pool. The catch was that it wouldn't be ready until later.

    So off we went to Epcot, where we had a 5:30 pm dinner reservation at the Coral Reef. We were on the Disney Dining Plan this time, our first experience with the program. (And overall we were quite satisfied with it.) We went directly to The Seas With Nemo and Friends, and then did Turtle Talk with Crush. The kids loved both of them.

    Dinner was excellent and so was the service. I made sure we gave our waiter a little extra on top of the Dining Plan, since reading posts on here about cast members' dissatisfaction with the way they were awarded gratuities. We then headed over to Mission Space and did the less intense version, which was fun. Not great, but fun. My oldest son (7) loved it.

    We were just in time for the show, and so we watched Illuminations, which was good. My younger son, however, doesn't like fireworks; they scare him and (in his words) they're just too loud! So we cut out near the end, and caught the monorail back to our hotel, and found our room, which was nicer than last time we stayed (I guess they redid some of the rooms) and found our luggage all there. Bedtime, get ready for the next day: Disney MGM Studios.

    I'll try to continue this in another post tomorrow...

  • #2
    Re: Trip summary - without pictures

    Nice report, sounds like you had a fun time.
    "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." -Henry David Thoreau

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    • #3
      Re: Trip summary - without pictures

      How are the new rooms at the Poly? The great thing about that place is even if you are out in the boonies its really not that bad, the grounds are beautiful, and with the bell hop's driving the golf carts you don't have to worry about lugging your bags around and if you need a lift they will usually give you a ride to the great ceremonial house if you ask nicely. Its the closest thing WDW has left to Mr toad's wild ride.
      Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...

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      • #4
        Re: Trip summary - without pictures

        I'll try to condense the rest of the days a bit.

        Day 2, we went to the character breakfast at O'Hana. The kids love it, and we enjoyed the Mickey waffles. Then it was off to Disney MGM Studios. I have to say that the resort to park bus service leaves a bit to be desired. First, we just barely missed a bus, and then we sat there forever (it seemed) watching Downtown Disney and DAK busses come by. The stop was crowded with people waiting for the MGM bus and finally someone said to the driver of a DTD bus that we had seen two or three of each other bus but none for MGM. He nodded, said something into the radio, and 5 minutes later, like magic, there was our bus!

        Rides we did: Star Tours (twice), The Great Movie Ride, Tower Of Terror, and the Lights Motors Action show. We missed out on the Backlot tour, and my boys didn't want to go on the Rockin Rollercoaster. I personally could do without ToT; it was just too darned BOUNCY! I guess I'm getting too old and too achy for those types. Oh, and we did the Muppet Vision 3D show; my younger boy loved it! (It's so cool to hear the giggles...)

        Lunch was at the ABC Commissary, and dinner was at the Sci-Fi Diner. That was a fun evening. It's a cool atmosphere in there. We also enjoyed the little "bookstore" next to it.

        5 and 7 year olds eventually get tired, and we had started early (and we were still more or less on Chicago time), so we left after our second Star Tours ride. There was a band playing, the motif was that they were lawn men (I forget their exact name), and they were a fairly talented cover band doing a lot of familiar tunes. (I'm a musician, have played in countless cover bands, and so I sort of enjoy this sort of thing.) Returning bus service was much better, and we called it a night.

        Day 3 was to be spent at the Magic Kingdom. We took our time getting going in the morning, went down to Capt. Cook's for breakfast (for the kids), and then headed over to the MK. First stop: Tomorrowland. We walked through the closed Tomorrowland Terrace where they had the Asian type counter service and got our Fast Passes for Space Mountain, then took a spin on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. If I recall correctly, we did Buzz Lightyear and then wandered over to Toontown, riding the Teacups on the way. We had a lunch reservation at 11:30 am at Crystal Palace, and we thought we could squeeze in Goofy's Barnstormer over in Toontown, but a large group of "Dreamfinders" slowed the line to a crawl and we barely made it to our lunch. We had also scheduled a presentation about the DVC (we opted NOT to buy), so we felt a little rushed. We did, however, get some super Fast Passes to compensate for the time we took out of our day to go to the presentation. Those were nice.

        We also made it onto the Speedway, and through the Haunted Mansion, which I felt was improved by the recent renovations (It's been 4 years since I did it, though...). We had dinner at the Columbia Harbor House between the Mansion and Fantasyland. We also made it into Snow White's Scary Adventure, Winnie The Pooh, and it's a small world on that side of the park. Then we meandered over to the other side, and went to Aladdin's Carpets a couple times (was a walk-on) and of course Pirates of the Caribbean. Then I talked my wife into doing the Jungle Cruise. We caught a little of the parade with all the lights, but we were on Jungle Cruise while the fireworks were going off. Caught the monorail back to our resort and called it a night, I think I carried our youngest pretty much all the way from the monorail where he fell asleep to our room. Still, a very fun day, maybe the best day of the vacation.

        More later.

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        • #5
          Re: Trip summary - without pictures

          Originally posted by Jerren View Post
          How are the new rooms at the Poly? The great thing about that place is even if you are out in the boonies its really not that bad, the grounds are beautiful, and with the bell hop's driving the golf carts you don't have to worry about lugging your bags around and if you need a lift they will usually give you a ride to the great ceremonial house if you ask nicely. Its the closest thing WDW has left to Mr toad's wild ride.
          I can't say the new rooms are head and shoulders above what I remember from two years ago,but they definitely seem roomier. I think this is because of the flat screen tv. I don't remember the closet area being as nice either. The furniture was newer and more comfortable, but we really didn't spend that much time in the room once we got going.

          I agree that it wouldn't be the worst thing to be way out by the walkway to the transportation center - which is where we would have been located - but it was nice being right next to the pool when we did use it, and with little kids, it made for a far shorter walk when they fall asleep on the monorail or bus. (Our little guy only did it twice on this vacation, as opposed to two years ago when both of them were doing it a bunch.) Also nice to be close to the lobby and Capt. Cook's for a late night water or snack run... You're right, the grounds are beautiful. I liked the grounds a lot at the Port Orleans French Quarter too, when we stayed there (October 2003, got in the Saturday before Hurricaine Jeanne hit so we got VERY familiar with our room there...), but I still like Polynesian better.

          Scott

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          • #6
            Re: Trip summary - without pictures

            Originally posted by PretzelSouls View Post
            Nice report, sounds like you had a fun time.
            We did. Thanks. I'm going to try to post the rest today or tomorrow. They get a little long...:-)

            Scott

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            • #7
              Re: Trip summary - without pictures

              Great report. Details are always appreciated, bring it on.

              I've heard mixed reviews about the Sci-fi Diner, how was your experience?

              Thanks!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                Glad you had a good time, Scott. I just returned from a 7-day trip myself...

                I'm wondering if you have ever visited in October before? I had been to WDW in October previously in 2005, and I noticed a significant difference in attendance while we were there (I expected Columbus Day to be busy, but it really continued throughout the week). I'm wondering what you thought of the crowds?

                Great TR, thanks for sharing!
                "When entering the theater, please move as far to the end of the row as possible. Stopping in the middle is distinctly unpatriotic." -Sam Eagle

                "I may have invented these bifocals I'm wearing, but I can assure you they're not rose-colored" -Ben Franklin, The American Adventure




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                • #9
                  Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                  Originally posted by DonDuck View Post
                  Great report. Details are always appreciated, bring it on.

                  I've heard mixed reviews about the Sci-fi Diner, how was your experience?

                  Thanks!
                  We had a good time. The "movie" was a bit annoying after a bit. We saw the same cartoons twice and the same retro-SF trailers three times, I think. The food was okay but not great, but I didn't expect it to be great. (The onion rings were pretty darned good, though...) The cars were cool, and my kids really liked them. We had to wait a few minutes beyond our reservation time to get a car rather than a table, but that was worth it.

                  Would I do it again? Probably not, but it was fun once. I'm glad we did it. It's a very cool look inside...

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                  • #10
                    Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                    Originally posted by Sabres2006 View Post
                    Glad you had a good time, Scott. I just returned from a 7-day trip myself...

                    I'm wondering if you have ever visited in October before? I had been to WDW in October previously in 2005, and I noticed a significant difference in attendance while we were there (I expected Columbus Day to be busy, but it really continued throughout the week). I'm wondering what you thought of the crowds?

                    Great TR, thanks for sharing!

                    Thanks! I've been reading your trip report as well! Some great pix!

                    We did visit in 2003 and in 2005, both times in late September or early October. On our first visit, we flew in on a Saturday (had a convention to attend later in the week) and the airport shut down about an hour after we landed, as we were getting our rental car, for Hurricaine Jeanne's imminent arrival. We spent the entire day on Sunday in our room with a styrofoam cooler, some non-perishable foods, and not much else, waiting out the storm. On Monday, it was actually pretty nice (very hot and humid but sunny and dry) but the parks were relatively empty. We didn't have waits on much of anything. IIRC, I think the only longer waits we had were on the backlot tour at MGM and the Safari at DAK. So that's not a good experience to judge from. But in 2005, we were there over Columbus Day and I think the crowds were a bit worse then than this year. Our trip went from 10/13 to 10/20 and it seemed to be the most crowded on Friday at Epcot. Otherwise, wait times were pretty low and we didn't have trouble getting tables at counter service places. But I did hear a lot of people being turned away at the table service restaurants...

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                    • #11
                      Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                      Originally posted by Esdeebee View Post
                      We had a good time. The "movie" was a bit annoying after a bit. We saw the same cartoons twice and the same retro-SF trailers three times, I think. The food was okay but not great, but I didn't expect it to be great. (The onion rings were pretty darned good, though...) The cars were cool, and my kids really liked them. We had to wait a few minutes beyond our reservation time to get a car rather than a table, but that was worth it.

                      Would I do it again? Probably not, but it was fun once. I'm glad we did it. It's a very cool look inside...
                      Thanks!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                        Continued...

                        Lessee...where was I? Oh, yeah. Day 4. Tuesday. Epcot. Again we took our time getting going, and had breakfast at Capt. Cook's, which was pretty much the story for the rest of the week. (So I'll quit posting it.) We got to Epcot and used our magic Fast Passes for Soarin', and got regular Fast Passes using our key cards. One let us ride immediately, the second for after lunch.

                        Soarin' is definitely my favorite experience at Epcot, and maybe at WDW in general. Both times today we were assigned to Row 3, and felt that the view of people's feet above us distracted from the experience, but it was still pretty darned good! Standby waits were about 50 to 70 minutes when we checked. Those DVC cards were good for something!

                        Other things we did today: the Land boat tour, the Mexican Pavilion Gran Fiesta boat ride, and Mission: Space again. This time my son wanted to try the more intense version. I wasn't sure about him, but the cast member told us that the little guys never have any problem with it, and sure enough, he didn't. He loved it. The first time he was Commander, and this time he was Captain. (That meant a lot to him...though it was all about just pushin' the buttons when you are called to do so...) The more intense ride with the 2.5 G's was definitely more intense. I could feel my cheeks pushed against my face and had noticably more difficulty raising my arm to push the buttons. But not bad.

                        Dinner was at Teppan Edo. It's a fun place, and we shared a table with some folks from near Chicago, which was nice. Our chef was quite entertaining; I want to say her name was Keiko but that could be wrong. I tried sake for the first time. I think it might be the last time, too. Service at our table was a little slow, but tolerable. They were really busy. All in all, I think I still like the food at Benihana more but this was fun and entertaining.

                        Oh, and the kids completed the Kidcot stops at all countries except for Canada. We'd get that one later. We left while Illuminations was going on, thus beating the crowds to the monorails. A fairly late night by the time we got back to our room.

                        Day 5. Animal Kingdom. Again, a long wait for the bus. And it was HOT! And as some of you have probably observed, it feels about 10 degrees warmer in DAK.

                        Lunched at Pizzafari. Did the Bug show, which my kids liked a lot more this time than two years ago. And we got Fastpasses for the Safari, which was pretty good - better this time because there seemed to be more animals out for viewing. Good driver, too. We used a couple of our super Fastpasses on Expedition Everest, and I really liked it. I read in another post that some animatronics weren't working, but it was still either tied with Soarin' or maybe even a little better for me. And my 7 year old loved it too. The backwards parts and the direction switches were inventive; I've never been on a coaster like it. Then we meandered into DinoLand, where my boys both rode the Triceratops Spin (the little one really loves these types of rides) and I and the older one rode the Primeval Whirl (which is just like the Ragin' Cajun at Great America here in Gurnee). That one is a little whippy for me, but my boy really loves it.

                        Took a bus back to the resort for a little relaxation and cool-down, change the soaked shirts, and then caught a bus to Downtown Disney. Again, service was a little slow, but better than for the theme parks. We had a voucher for Planet Hollywood, which was fun but really loud. (They played OK Go's treadmill video which made it all worth it for me.) Then we wandered around the downtown, I'd never walked through Pleasure Island and it's really pretty cool, in my opinion. Bought an overpriced Disney duffel bag for our extra purchases, and I bought a book: Walt Disney Imagineering by the Imagineers. Very cool book. Kids played a bit at the Lego store, and we headed back to the resort to prepare for Day 6 at the MK.

                        More later, either today or tomorrow...

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                        • #13
                          Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                          But in 2005, we were there over Columbus Day and I think the crowds were a bit worse then than this year. Our trip went from 10/13 to 10/20 and it seemed to be the most crowded on Friday at Epcot.
                          Originally posted by Esdeebee View Post
                          Bought an overpriced Disney duffel bag for our extra purchases, and I bought a book: Walt Disney Imagineering by the Imagineers. Very cool book.
                          Yeah, I'm thinking it was just poor planning by my family to visit over Columbus Day...thank goodness the hurricane didn't affect your trip too much a few years back, though. I can't imagine what it's like to sit that out (I've had my share of snow storms, but no hurricanes).

                          I have the Imagineering book too - good stuff! I also recommend the "Imagineering Field Guide" series. They're $10 apiece (can purchase them on Amazon or eBay), and they basically provide some interesting tidbits about different aspects of the parks...I picked up the AK book during my trip (I still need the MGM one, though). Really enjoyable!

                          Again, great TR, and I'm glad you and your family had a nice trip!
                          "When entering the theater, please move as far to the end of the row as possible. Stopping in the middle is distinctly unpatriotic." -Sam Eagle

                          "I may have invented these bifocals I'm wearing, but I can assure you they're not rose-colored" -Ben Franklin, The American Adventure




                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                            Originally posted by Sabres2006 View Post
                            Yeah, I'm thinking it was just poor planning by my family to visit over Columbus Day...thank goodness the hurricane didn't affect your trip too much a few years back, though. I can't imagine what it's like to sit that out (I've had my share of snow storms, but no hurricanes).

                            I have the Imagineering book too - good stuff! I also recommend the "Imagineering Field Guide" series. They're $10 apiece (can purchase them on Amazon or eBay), and they basically provide some interesting tidbits about different aspects of the parks...I picked up the AK book during my trip (I still need the MGM one, though). Really enjoyable!

                            Again, great TR, and I'm glad you and your family had a nice trip!
                            I bought the Epcot one, and also another Imagineering book - I don't recall exactly the title. (And I borrowed the MK Field guide from a friend...) They are good reading!

                            What I recall about the hurricane was that at first we were sort of scared - trees pointing horizontally are just not something we see too much in the Midwest, and when we do it usually means "tornado". But after a while of watching winds whip and trees bend, we got sort of desensitized to it and just couldn't wait till it was over. I remember at first we were like, "Stay away from the windows kids!!!" but by the end of the storm we were telling our older son, "Look outside and see if it's still raining and blowing." :-)

                            Disney did give us two extra days in the parks for the three of us (our other son was too little and didn't require an admission) which were good for 15 years. That was really nice of them. We used one later in the week on the same vacation, so we got our Sunday back, more or less. We still have one that's good till like 2018. They are good at trying to keep the guests happy...

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                            • #15
                              Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                              Okay, hopefully this is the last post of my trip report, including days 6 and 7.

                              On Thursday, we planned to get a late start, spending the morning at our hotel pool, with me playing chaperone to our two boys as they played in the zero depth pool. I didn't spend much time in POFQ's pool when we stayed there 4 years ago, but I really love the zero depth feature of Polynesian's pool. It's great for kids who really don't have their sea legs yet. In this pool, they can go to their comfortable depth and then swim all they want, because any time they need to they can touch the ground.

                              After showers we hopped the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Headed back again into Tomorrowland, and did Buzz Lightyear before eating at Ray's Cosmic Diner. (I especially liked the sauteed 'shrooms on the toppings bar.) We then headed over to Frontierland, with the intention of doing both Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. I hadn't checked; apparently BTM hasn't been working for three weeks, and will be out for another two or three weeks at least. That was sort of disappointing; my 7 year old was looking forward to it. But we got our last magical Fastpasses and did Splash Mountain, just the two of us (the 5 year old wasn't up for it). We got in the front seat. What a cool log ride! I was particularly impressed with the story and theming and the variety along the ride flume...I'm used to Great America's logs where you go around a bit, go up the belt, go around the corner, and then down you go. Then back in. This had several smaller drops before that final big one, and plenty of stuff to keep your attention. (I got soaked, but my son ducked and he didn't get much of anything.)

                              Meantime, my wife took the 5 year old on POTC and the Carpets again; POTC was a walk-on. When we found out that BTM was offline, we decided to walk over to the Carpets, thinking that was where we'd find them. And there they were, in line. We went back on POTC again, and it was still a walk on.

                              On POTC: I didn't quite get what the story was on Jack Sparrow; he just seemed to pop up randomly as the ride progressed. But the AA of him was incredible. The first time I had to look a couple times just to be sure it wasn't a real person, you know, like those guys who do the statues in San Fran at Fisherman's Wharf or in Vegas. The eyes were incredibly lifelike. All three appearances of Johnny Depp were of equal quality. (I've since read a post here which detailed the story and it makes sense.)

                              It then started to sprinkle, just as we got back to Frontierland to take a train ride. We just missed a train, waited for another, and got on. Then it started to thunder and lightning, so they made us all get off, and get into the queue at Mickey's Toontown. So we made a run for the store there, and the kids had a blast with the Mr. Potato Heads, and of course we ended up buying two of them. (But we stuffed the boxes with everything there...)

                              The rain had stopped, and we made it over to Tomorrowland, did Buzz Lightyear two more times (my little guy loves that one too...) and the TTA again. I like the leisurely pace of TTA, but I think it could use a little TLC and upgrading. Skipped MILF and Stitch; we didn't much like Stitch the last time we were there. Then we headed back to the hotel, because we had tix for the Spirit of Aloha Luau.

                              The Luau was okay. My younger son slept through most of it, and it wasn't like the "real" luau we went to in Maui in 1998. More of a dinner show, lots of acting and singing. But then the third act (after dessert) was more of what I expected - a fire dancer, a lot of traditional dances, and man, the lady dancers were ... well, darn, they were hot! I enjoyed it. I'm really glad we did it, but on the other hand, I don't think I'd do it every time I go, or even for a long time...

                              On Friday morning, we had to print our SW boarding passes to get the A group passes, and that couldn't be done till 11:50 so my wife hung out at the resort, repacking and waiting to print the stupid things (she was pretty ticked off that she had to do it; I suppose I could have stayed back, but what good would that have done? She wasn't ticked off at me; she agreed that I should take the kids and go to a park, and not waste half the day for everyone, she was ticked that she had to do it at all...no more Southwest, I have a feeling...)

                              So I and the boys hopped the monorail to Epcot. Went straight to Soarin' and used our last magic fastpasses. I won't go into all the details, but something screwed up with our DVC cards and they let us go right on, which was really nice. I was ready to leave it at that but the CM at the gate who helped us said we should really go to DVC and talk to them, because we were still owed those last 4 fastpasses. I said that, well, this would have been three of them, and he said, no this doesn't have anything to do with that. Go get them. (So I did later.)

                              The boys and I decided to try to do Turtle Talk, but we missed a show, were not in the loading area for the next one, and decided to go on Nemo instead, which was a longer wait probably but at least we kept moving. They liked it the second time, too, but really, there isn't much to the ride. The graphics and video are cool, I must admit. But not much content...

                              My wife called us while we were coming out of Nemo, and originally our plan was to go back to MK for the afternoon, but we realized our dinner reservation was earlier than we recalled, and so we decided to stay at Epcot. She came over, and while we were waiting, we high tailed it over to Canada to do the last Kidcot stop and get their Goofy pictures. Then we went to the DVC and they replaced the non functioning cards with a pass for all four of us. Then I took the boys to the Electric Umbrella again, and we waited for mom to join us. Which she did in about 5 minutes.

                              Afternoon: We did Soarin' again, first row this time (first row in the am too). Soarin' is an even better experience if you're in Row 1, I've decided. It's more than just not having anyone's feet in your field of vision - you are also looking at the film from a higher angle and it "feels" better - even more real - from up higher. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

                              We did all the Kidcot stops in Futureworld, got more Goofy pictures, and went on Ellen's Energy Adventure. It was better than I thought it would be, but I don't feel compelled to go on it on my next visit. She's never been a favorite of mine, but my son knew and liked Bill Nye the Science Guy. And it was an interesting ride mechanism, with the seating doubling as ride vehicles and turning around to point you at what they want you to see. We also waited in line for all five of the character photos and their autographs, and while we were waiting, it poured rain. After this, I got to check out the 25th Epcot exhibit. It's a little thing, isn't it? But there are some very nice models and other things there. It was more interesting to me than to my family, but my older son really liked the small models. (My wife's cousin is at Yale studying graduate architecture, and my son finds his work intriguing...so he loves anything that looks like it might be related to architecture...) Then we went to the Cool Stop or whatever it was called, and tried the drinks from around the world. When I tried the Italy one, I made a face, and looked around to see a small group laughing at me, saying they were waiting for someone to try it. :-) (It was pretty awful tasting.)

                              Went to dinner at Les Chefs de France, and had a fabulous meal. Our waiter, Manuel, was very attentive, very nice. (Not very smiley but an excellent waiter.) We were out of DDP points so we paid out of pocket for this one and I tipped a little better than normal. I had a beef dish, my wife had the vegetarian lasagne. Both were excellent as was the creme brulee dessert we shared and the french onion soup (for my wife) and my salad...

                              It was relatively early, so we went to Norway, waited in Standby for about 25 minutes for Maelstrom. It was a neat ride, also very different from any other boat ride I'd taken. And I learned a little from the short film, which most of the riders skipped right past.

                              On our way out I bought two more books: The Epcot Field Guide and another of the Imagineers' books. The Art Of Disney store is very cool; it's the kind of store I think there should be more of. (I also liked the glass blowing stores where the artisans are making the glass figures right there.)

                              An early exit the next morning: 8:45 Disney Magical Express. We couldn't check our bags at the resort like you can with a bunch of other airlines, so we had to handle them at the airport, but that wasn't the worst thing.

                              Things I liked: Most everything. Things I didn't like: Not much. I have no examples of real disappointment at anything!

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                              • #16
                                Re: Trip summary - without pictures

                                Always good to see a nice report. Glad you had a good time.

                                Comment

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