Walt Disney World 2012 Trip Day 1 – Sunday 12/02/12: 23 Years in the Making

Back in July I wrote a trip report of our trip to San Diego Comic-Con & Disneyland.  I’m back for another trip report, this time from our trip to Walt Disney World.

Dramatis personae:

Me – Your humble narrator.  I had developed a bad cough a couple days before the trip and got some medicine to help, so hopefully it will go away and I can really enjoy myself.

Moms – My mother, she repeatedly claims to want nothing to do with Disney parks, but once we get there you can’t pull her away.

Before I begin, a little history.  Join me in letting your mind wander back to 1989, cell phones were actually about as big as they are now (I’m looking at you Galaxy Note 2), as far as we knew Ewoks and the Holiday Special would be the only blights on the Star Wars franchise, and Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios were still called EPCOT Center & Disney-MGM Studios respectively.  As a seven year old, Moms took me to Disney World in the summer, because apparently we enjoyed the heat back then.  I only have vague memories of that trip, but those are my earliest memories of the Disney Parks.  So here we are going back 23 years later, during a more favorable time of year, as seasoned Disneyland vets.  How would Walt’s original park fair in comparison?  Would we constantly be lost?  Is the internet right and Walt Disney World is a huge crumbling pile of disappointment?  We’d have to travel to the other side of the country to find out.

We had a 7 am flight, which meant being at the airport during my sleep time.  Luckily no one sat between us Phoenix to Charlotte so we could spread out a little.  We only had about 40 minutes between our connecting flight which meant we basically ran across the Charlotte airport.  Maybe next time I’ll get to sit in their rocking chairs.  Someone sat between us on the final leg of our trip, but the flight was short so it didn’t bother me.  Especially because I was probably just as excited to go to Disney World as the little kids in the aisle across from us.

One of the “perks” Disney has for staying on property at Disney World is a service called Disney’s Magical Express (DME).  With DME, you get luggage tags to stick on your checked luggage before you leave home and Disney takes it off the plane and delivers it to your room a couple hours after you land.  They’ll also take you from the Orlando airport to your hotel.  It’s pretty nice skipping baggage claim and getting a free ride to your hotel.

The DME area features a number of lines each going to a different grouping of hotels.  We found our line and after about a 10 minute wait, we were boarding our bus and headed on our way.

WDW TR-1 – we got a Disney Cruise Line bus to take us

WDW TR-2

WDW TR-3 – the park entry arches are so cool

Which hotel were we staying at exactly you ask?  Well, that would be the Polynesian.

WDW TR-4

WDW TR-5 WDW TR-6 WDW TR-7 – outside the hotel

WDW TR-8 – inside the lobby

We checked in and were given a room in the Rarotonga building right next to the Great Ceremonial House (main lobby area).  We briefly checked out Capt. Cook’s before heading to our room.  Despite reading about Disney’s use of RFID for the locks on the rooms, I completely forgot about that when the time came to actually get in.  Luckily there were some other guests in the hallway to help us out.  The room was nice, and with the daybed, we had quite a bit of space.

WDW TR-9 – walking outside and seeing this is the moment I realized Disney World wasn’t playing around

WDW TR-10 WDW TR-11 WDW TR-12 WDW TR-13 – room details

After scoping the room out for a bit, we were feeling a little hungry and decided to go back to Capt. Cook’s for lunch.  We explored a little of the hotel and went down to the Seven Seas Lagoon for a glimpse of Magic Kingdom Park as well as the Grand Floridian & the Contemporary hotels.  That area is amazing.  The Polynesian does a good job of giving you that tropical feeling when looking out over the water.

WDW TR-14 – Polynesian Resort grounds

WDW TR-15 – Seven Seas Lagoon

I had seen something called Pork Nachos at Capt. Cook’s and they were calling my name, so off we went for food.  Moms had the pepperoni flatbread and I had the aforementioned nachos.  The nachos were very good, but could have used more toppings (like all nachos).  Moms thought her flatbread was so-so.

WDW TR-16 WDW TR-17 – cupcakes

WDW TR-18 – pork nachos

WDW TR-19 – pepperoni flatbread

WDW TR-20 – tropical Mickey & Minnie with I’m assuming Mickey’s nephews

Our hunger defeated, it was time to visit a park.  Since the Polynesian is a Monorail hotel, we hopped on that to take us.  Magic Kingdom was closing early for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, so we rode by it and awed at our first up-close glimpses of Cinderella’s Castle.  To the Ticket & Transfer Center (TTC) we went to transfer to the Epcot line to make that our first Disney World park in 23 years.  The Monorail as a form of transportation is great.  Riding to and through Epcot in that manner is amazing.

WDW TR-21 – the dome

So we hopped off the Monorail and after a visit to Customer Service to get our Premiere annual passes activated for Disney World, we were in.  The first ride we would partake in would be the first ride we approached. Spaceship Earth.  We both liked it, but Moms loved it, especially seeing us on the screens when you exit the ride.

WDW TR-22 WDW TR-23 WDW TR-24 WDW TR-25 – Spaceship Earth

I realized long ago that I wouldn’t be able to do everything on this trip, so I really developed an attitude that I was just happy to be going and wouldn’t worry about running around trying to get everything done.  It was with this attitude, that we kind of just wandered around taking everything in.  Our meandering eventually led us to Club Cool, where I quickly served Moms a cup of the infamous Beverly to try.  Club Cool is a Coca-Cola sponsored lounge in which there are stations set up with fountain drinks of unique flavors of sodas from around the world.  Beverly is a bitter Italian drink that is not good.  Disney World fans who know it’s not good seem to take great pleasure in bringing their loved ones to Club Cool to unknowingly drink the horrible Beverly.  So I had to do the same.  Moms did not enjoy it.  I tried all the sodas and liked China, Mexico, & Costa Rica.

WDW TR-26 – Club Cool sodas from the World

After refreshing our thirst, we headed for Epcot’s giant Christmas tree and World Showcase.  We started our trip around the World clockwise and visited Mexico first.  The inside of the Mexico pavilion was really cool with the way it made you feel like you were back outside.  It does a good job of transporting you to Mexico.  So we hopped on a boat in search of Donald throughout the entire country. Moms spent most of the ride trying to get her camera to cooperate that she missed most of what was happening.  Luckily it was dead, so we stayed on and rode again.

WDW TR-27 – Christmas tree

WDW TR-28 WDW TR-29 WDW TR-30 – Mexico pavilion

WDW TR-31 WDW TR-32 WDW TR-33 – inside the Gran Fiesta Tour ride

After getting in touch with our roots, we continued our worldwide tour with Norway.  Moms stepped into Kringla Bakeri og Kafe to get a drink and I went with her because they had something I had heard about and was dying to try.  School bread.  So yummy, I miss it already.  School bread is a soft pastry filled with a custard and covered in toasted coconut shavings, and it bears repeating that it is very good.  After our snack, we decided to give Maelstrom a try.  From 23 years ago, I remember this ride had a drop and I was kinda scared before it happened.  The drop is small, so 7 year old me enjoyed this ride.  I think.  Older me was not impressed.  I normally enjoy slow rides, especially slow boat rides, but I just couldn’t get into this one.

WDW TR-34 – school bread

WDW TR-35 – Norway at night

After our Scandinavian adventure, Moms was looking for a place to sit and maybe watch Illuminations since it was going to start soon.  While Moms sat, I went in search of another snack and ended up with a pretzel from Germany and got back to Moms just in time for Illuminations to start.  We watched the show from the bridge between China and the Refreshment Outpost and I don’t think we had the best view.  We still enjoyed the show, but I don’t think we got the full effect from our vantage point.

WDW TR-36 – view of the dome from near the Germany pavilion

WDW TR-37 WDW TR-38 – Illuminations fireworks

The ending of Illuminations meant Epcot was closed for the night so we started to make our way back to the Poly.  The Monorail was closed, which meant we would have to take a bus back.  This would lead to some confusion at a later date when trying to leave Epcot.

WDW TR-39  – China pavilion

WDW TR-40 – view from across World Showcase lagoon

WDW TR-41 WDW TR-42 – the dome as we left

We made it back to our room and stayed awake for a while just off the excitement.  We were both thrilled to be in Disney World again.

 

 

Link to Day 2

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Random Photo for 01/20/2013

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I woke up early near the tail-end of our Disney World trip and went to the beach at our hotel, The Polynesian, to take some photos.  It was pretty foggy this morning, but I was able to capture this shot of the Contemporary Hotel.  It started off rather blah, but after some adjustments in Lightroom 4 it was looking better.  I recently got a free version of On One Software’s Perfect Effect 4 and decided to give this a go in that as well.  I really liked the way it turned out after adding a couple different effects in that as well.