February 12, 2006

wonderful world - day 1

Click here for pictures!
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NOTE: The pictures are from all five days, but I'm going to blog it in segments. Too much for one post!!

Lydia and I took an emergency vacation last week to Walt Disney World. It was emergent in a few senses... we both desperately needed it with the level of stress we've been experiencing the past few months, and it kind of happened at an emergent pace. The prior Wednesday afternoon, I called 407-WDISNEY and said, "whaddya got?" Luckily, they had our dream vacation available... and between the reservationist there and Southwest, we actually got a pretty reasonable deal.

According to our Disney Bible, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, the second week of February is one of the best times to go to Orlando. It's prior to Spring Breaks, and after the Holiday crowds are long gone. The only drawback is the weather, and this year, it was one of the coldest streaks in Florida in a long time, with highs in the sixties (not too bad) and lows very close to freezing... not so great if your park strategy is like ours: get in early and beat the rush. Despite the coolness and the last minute planning, I don't think there was a thing we'd change about our vacation. (Well, maybe one little thing... but that didn't happen until Friday... and it really wasn't that big...)

Day 1
Monday morning, we flew to Orlando. We opted for the second flight of the day that got us in around noon and hopped right on Disney's Magical Express bus. We can't believe how smoothly it went. Even though we had booked too late to receive our Magical Express luggage tags, Disney found our bags from the flight and had them in our room that evening!

We checked in at the Polynesian Resort and found that even at 1:00 p.m., our room was ready. We were in the newly refurbished Rapa Nui building. We figured out that it was newly refurbished because the first floor room we were first sent to had missing lighting fixtures in the bathroom! They quickly moved us to a third floor room in the same building which was a carbon copy of the first one... only facing the opposite side of the building and including the aforementioned lights. Rapa Nui is a great building to be in at the Polynesian. It's kind of a hike to the Great Ceremonial House where the hotel restaurants and monorail stop are, but it's just a two minute walk to the Polynesian bus stop where you pick up the MGM and Animal Kingdom buses and a two minute walk to the "TTC" - the Transportation and Transit Center where you pick up the express monorail to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

That afternoon, we went to Epcot and explored around the World Showcase, seeing Reflections of China (which, surprisingly, does not end with fireworks), Norway's Maelstrom (which is pretty darn cool) and Mexico's El Rio de Tiempo (forgettable) before our dinner at Mitsukoshi Teppanyaki Dining Room. Afterwards, we explored the Mitsukoshi Department Store below the restaurant and picked up one of the best under-$10 things you can buy for your Disney World trip, a wooden foot massager. I think every night we got back to the room, we both spent some time with this little gem.

Teppanyaki was the first of our Table-Service meals on our Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining tickets. We highly recommend this package because you end up eating at much better restaurants that you would normally, and saving a bundle in the process. For each dining day, you pay $35 per person and get a snack (20 oz. Coke, Popcorn, bottled water or other minor item), a Counter-Service meal (beverage, entree or combo meal and dessert,) and a Table-Service meal (beverage, appetizer, entree, dessert.) You make out like bandits when you "buy" the most expensive things on the menu with your credits. For instance, our first three dining plan usages ended up like this:
Counter-ServiceRib/Chicken combo, Coke, Brownie$18.50Grilled Chicken combo, Lemonade, Brownie$10.50
Table-ServiceEdamame, Steak and Shrimp, Lemonade$32.50Miso Soup, Teriyaki Chicken and Shrimp, Lemonade$30.50
(plus 18% gratuity)
Interestingly, the number of meals is tied to the number of nights you stay at a Disney resort, not the number of ticket days you purchase. We were spending four nights at the hotel, but had five-day park tickets, so we had to pay out of pocket for a couple of our meals.


Kat Coble said...

Did you stay for the movie after Maelstrom?

Okay, now that you've been, we can tell you our joke about that ride.

In the queuing area there is that great big mural of Visions of Norway, and the central picture is a blonde woman in white holding a clipboard. We figured out after staring at it for 10 minutes that she's probably a cruise director on NCL. But anyway, I looked at it and said "I said NORSE!!!", because at first glance she looks like--a nurse.

Anyway, it was funny at the time.

Anonymous said...

Great trip report (so far) and pics. Can't wait to hear "The Rest of the Story"!

One incidental question: Did it strike you as odd that the fire evacuation instructions at the Polynesian were given by a wooden boy who, if I recall correctly, had trouble negotiating his way out of a one-room whale? I'm just sayin'...