Disney EchoEar Regular
Joined: Aug. 2003
||Posted: Oct. 14, 2003 6:48 am/pm
Cast of Characters:
Me - WDW nut & trip planner
DH - Doesn’t get it but has fun while there
DS10 - Psyched
DS8 - Nervous about going
DS15mon - Happy boy, ready for anything
Day One - Three - Universal
We were not planning on going to Disney this year. Providence, however, had different ideas and because of a tremendous deal (FTP) off we go. And so our adventure begins...
Of course DH had to work later than we hoped. He is in advertising and almost always has impossible deadlines to meet. Boy did he need a great vacation. We are finally off at 7:15 PM and drove through the night from Southern NJ (1006 mi) to our first destination - The Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Studios Orlando. Driving long distances with a spouse and three kids can be a wonderful lesson in patience, love, & forbearance. It is also a great opportunity to talk. My dh works long hours and I home school our kids so we are pretty busy when at home. There was no traffic anywhere and although there were construction barriers all along Route 95, no one was working. The ride from cold (39 degrees) NJ to sunny and warm Florida went really well. The kids held up wonderfully. We listened to the Lord of the Rings on cd, played MadLibs (grammar practice), and watched a few videos. The boys even managed to get quite a bit of sleep.
We arrived at the RPR at 10:10 AM - 14 hours and 55 minutes after we left home. As we pull up we are greeted by three very friendly and helpful CMs (yes, they are called that too.) They informed us that our room was ready. Yippee! Walking through the lobby we are struck by the beauty of the resort. Simply breathtaking. There was no one waiting to check in so after about 5 minutes we are on our way to Royal Tower 3. At check-in we are given a free upgrade to water-view, late checkout, and a $10 mini bar credit courtesy of the Loews First Club (free to join by the way and can be used at any Loews hotel.) The boys each got a shovel and pail with the RPR logo on it and a bag of shells ~ cute keepsake.
Our room was on the fifth floor and was quite stunning. Slate on the floor in the foyer and bath and marble counter tops for the sink area (which is separate from the bath.) The room is small but beautiful. Our upgraded view is gorgeous. Pool view with IOA smack in the center. So cool. I only wish they had balconies. At this point we all took turns resting and showering. Housekeeping brought up a crib (metal with a bumper) so the baby got to rest a bit too.
To save time, and for those that really don't give a hoot about Universal (this is a disney board after all) I’m just going to list the highlights, lowlights, and so-so items of our time at Universal.
CM’s at hotel are awesome! We found them happy, helpful, and ready to make your stay extra special.
Upgraded to water view - awesome.
Boat rides from and to hotel are refreshing for tired tootsies.
Spiderman - still as great as ever.
Room Key Express Pass - I love this! I know Disney probably has too many hotels to implement a system like this but it is so much better than Fast Pass.
Men in Black marathon - My shooting was a little off this trip so dh beat my score almost every time. Tons of fun thanks to our room key.
The pool area. There are many reasons for my disappointment here. No water slide, so kind of boring for my two older boys. Pool is not heated or at least the heat wasn’t turned on. The main activity this day seemed to be getting drunk. We did not stay long because of that. After the park closed (7 PM) we had dinner by the pool (Bula). Food was good but expensive but here’s what puts it on my bad list ~ no free refills on soda. Sorry, but if you charge me $1.99 for a 16 ounce soda that is mostly ice and don’t give me a free refill I get a tad annoyed. Our waitress agreed with me and gave us free refills (so I guess that can go under CM highlight.) We were going to stay for the “Dive-In Movie” but after about 5 minutes figured out there was still way too much drinking and boisterous behavior for us so we went to bed. They show a PG movie (this night was Daddy Daycare) but with the bar being right there there was a lot of R and NC-17 words and behavior going on. Maybe there was just a particularly rowdy crew there while we stayed. But this has us thinking we would not stay at Universal again with kids.
Dudley Do Right Ripsaw Falls - We were really looking forward to this and the drop is awesome. But the queue and themeing on the ride was awful. It looks like a high school put this ride together for a carnival. We found it very much in need of paint and repair. I would ride again for the drop ~ very thrilling and you will get drenched!
The CMs in the Park - As good as the hotel CMs were that’s how bad the park CMs were. One of them was downright rude to me. As we were loading DDRRSF she wanted to split up me & ds10 & ds8. I told her I needed to sit with my sons and her response was “FINE! I’ll get you your own boat then!” I said “That would be lovely, thanks.” There was only one CM at Jurassic Park ~ the loading operator. On a Saturday! It was complete mayhem with people rushing into the loading area, I felt bad for the guy that was working. My ds8 and I finally got on and enjoyed our ride. We did meet one nice CM in the parks. In IOA there was a guy selling magic trick kits (dh bought one ~ looks really cool) and he was great!
Shrek 4D - CMs did not stay in character, pre show was not working correctly and we had to stay in the pre show room until all the kinks were worked out. Hot and smelly. In all honesty that might have altered my thoughts about the show. It was just O.K. to me. My dh rode the next day(he had to sit out with baby 1st time) and he loved it. So maybe I was just tired and cranky.
Jimmy Neutron - Same thing as Hanna Barbera ride, they just changed the movie. It was fun for my ds10 & ds8 so I guess that’s what matters most.
We had been to both parks about two years ago so we didn’t need to see everything. We managed to get on everything we wanted to (more than once) thanks to our room keys. I can’t say enough how much we loved this perk.
Now on to our Disney Adventure...
Day Three Checking into the Poly
On Saturday my dh took ds8 to Universal and ds10 & ds15months and I drove down to the Poly to check in. I knew the hotel was full and wanted to increase our chances of getting our room request honored. As we drove through the entrance of WDW I felt all my tension just melt away. Because I wasn’t checking any bags I parked the car and walked over to the GCH. Alohas and smiles greeted us from every direction and our ears were filled with the sounds of quiet laughter and trickling water - hmm, so relaxing. There was no one waiting to check in (at 9:30 AM) and there were many rooms available for us to choose from and most were ready! Because I was really in the mood now for quiet, I chose Tokelau facing toward the TTC. I originally chose Samoa-volcano pool view and it was available but I had an overwhelming desire for peace and quiet and the room we got really filled the bill. After receiving our leis we were sent off with more alohas. We went upstairs to purchase the items to surprise ds8. While I was buying Pal Mickey the CM asked ds10 if it was for him. Ds turned red and mumbled no (10 is too cool you know). I told CM that ds8 was nervous about our visit and that I wanted to surprise him with a few things to help him feel better. Chatted a few minutes more with CM. He was very helpful with tips about the Poly to enhance our stay. We left the store with Pal Mickey, a big postcard and our FTP print (which is very nice by the way). We had fun checking out everything upstairs and then headed down to Capt’n Cooks to get our mugs. Pictures do not do this hotel justice. It is really very lovely. Got our mugs($11.99 each + tax) and then went to check out our room. These rooms are so big! The room was very clean, no musty smell at all. We couldn’t hang around long because we had to get back to the other half of our family at Universal. But before we left we had to check out the volcano pool. We followed the path between Samoa & Hawaii. As we approached Samoa I saw a woman coming down the stairs. “Hmm, I know this woman from somewhere. Oh, it’s Carol Koster!” I said hello and then Rich & ds came out. It was very nice to meet you all. The pool is fabulous, very close to the beach too. Looking over the SSL I was surprised by how close the GF is. What a beautiful resort. We forced ourselves back into the van, looking forward to that evening when we would return.
We spent the day at US and then hopped over to IOA. We were finally on our way back to the Poly at 4:30 P.M. While I was at the hotel earlier I wrote a quick note on the post card for ds8, forged Mickey’s name (gasp! ), and had Pal Mickey hold the card which welcomed us back. I sat him on the table leaning against the ice bucket. Imagine my surprise when we arrived back at our room and someone had added balloons and a signed Mickey photo! I had no idea who could have done such a thing. I guess it was the CM I chatted with in the morning. Of course I didn’t get his name and never saw him again. What a happy surprise and a great way to begin our disney stay. And how about that? My forgery turned out to be pretty good. No one suspects a thing. Shh... Ds8 was tickled that he got such special treatment. That was one of a couple of magical moments we had.
We were still recovering from our drive so we nixed the plans to head over to MK for FITS. We grabbed a quick dinner from Capt’n Cooks (not very good) and enjoyed the volcano pool. We ended our 1st night at Disney by watching FITS and the EWP from the Poly beach. That was our first time watching EWP. Seems like something from bygone days. Very low tech but very cute. Loved the music that goes with each character. Of course I didn’t have my video camera with me. Anyone have any digital video of that? Try to catch it if you can.
Lights out by 10.
Next up: First haircut at MK & MNSSHP. (and hopefully some pictures)
Karen / Ciavobella
Sometimes, when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things,you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.