Friday, October 12, 2012


Our group of 7
We've done a few Walt Disney World trips now, and have learned that nothing is perfect, not even at WDW.  Our group consisted of 5 WDW veterans, and 2 first timers (well, practically first timers).  The group put their trust in my knowledge and experience to be the "man with the plan".

Would you trust this guy with your WDW trip planning?

   Sometimes it's Disney's fault when something goes awry.  Sometimes it's our fault, and we realize that we are in the middle of one of those "oops moments".

   There were a few of these events on our last trip:

1. The Room Key:

Disney's Contemporary Resort

   Upon our arrival at The Contemporary Resort, we checked in, and we headed to our room.  When we got there, we did not know how to use the key card reader!  We were looking for a place to "slide" the magnetic strip card, but there was no such place.  Eventually we figured out that you don't slide the card into this type of door, but rather, just touch the magnetic strip to the reader.  We did this, and it flashed RED!

   We tried all 5 of our cards, and they all flashed red.  I went to the elevator lobby, used the house phone to call down to the front desk and explained the situation.  They said that they would try something from there, and if it did not work, they would send someone up to let us into the room until they got it straightened out.

   After a little while, they told us to try the key, so a member of our group went to the room and tried their key... it worked!  It was a rocky start to the trip, but it did get fixed and we were into our room ready to rest up for a big day of touring in the morning.

2. Where is our Magical Express Luggage?

The walkway connects Bay Lake Tower with The Contemporary Resort
   We got into our room, called down to have our Garden Grocer goodies sent up to our room.  We put away our food, and things from our carry-on bags, had something to eat, and waited for our checked in bags to arrive from Disney's Magical Express service.  An important item contained in one of those suitcases was the air mattress for our little Grand Daughter to sleep on.  I explained to the group that we should be patient and it could take 3-4 hours from our airport arrival time for the bags to make their way to our room.

   About 5 hours later, it was getting late, and concern was beginning to set in with our Daughter.  I kept defending Disney's honor, but finally became a little concerned myself and made a call down to the bell services to ask about our luggage.

Disney's Bay Lake Tower

   I noticed that the message button was blinking on our phone, so I hit it and listened to the message...
explaining that bell services made an attempt to deliver our luggage to our room, but The "DO NOT DISTURB" sign was hanging on the door, so they did not attempt delivery!

   MY BAD!  Yes, I was the one who hanged the Do Not Disturb sign on our door!  So I called them, and explained what happened.  The same gentleman that left the message was the one who answered, and he just laughed and said "no problem", "things like this happen all the time" - and that he'd have everything sent right up.  Like I said, sometimes it's Disney's fault... sometimes it's ours.  We got to bed kinda' late on our arrival night.


   We had some friends with us, and told them about Epcot's American Adventure.  We felt it was a "must see" for them, and made sure to be there for one of the showtimes during the day.  We were seated, enjoying the presentation when about 15 minutes into it, we realized that we could HEAR the voices, but there were no audio-animatronics on the stage!  A few minutes later the curtains closed, and the cast member brought up the house lights, and gave the "We are sorry, but due to technical difficulties..." Spiel.  We were disappointed.  Our friends liked what they got to see of the show, but I wish they could have seen the whole thing.  That final scene with Ben Franklin & Mark Twain in the torch at the top of the Statue of Liberty is a classic.  Oh Well...Things happen.

4. THE EPCOT BUS (...from The Contemporary)
Disney Transport Bus at Animal Kingdom

   On our Epcot day, I had it all planned out.  Our friends (2) were staying at Kidani Village, and we (5) were at Bay Lake Tower.  I filled them in on the importance of  "rope drop" when visiting the parks.  Especially if you want to ride Soarin'.  I had them be at Epcot as close to 8:30am as possible, and we would meet them there.  We went to the bus stop at the Contemporary and were ready to roll.  The Animal Kingdom bus pulled up and about 2/3 of the people waiting got on that bus.  I said "Good, most of these folks aren't going to epcot!".  Then a Disney Hollywood Studios bus came and the bus stop got practically empty.  It was looking good.  We waited as a few more buses came and went.  Time was ticking away, and I started to get a little worried.  Where was the epcot bus?  

Monorail to the rescue!

   Then it hit me... We are on the monorail line, maybe there isn't a bus to epcot!  I ran to the next bus that pulled up and asked the driver if there was a bus to Epcot.  The funny thing is THE BUS DRIVER DIDN'T KNOW and started to call HQ to find out!  As he was calling, a couple that was sitting on the bus told me that there was no bus to epcot from the contemporary, and that we would have to get on the monorail and then transfer at the TTC to the Epcot monorail!  I goofed again!  We headed up to the monorail, hopped on, transferred at the TTC and finally made our arrival at Epcot.  Our Daughter had called our 2 friends who were waiting patiently on a bench by Spaceship Earth, and explained what was up.  As the monorail made it's way through Epcot, we could see them sitting on that bench waiting for us.  We made our way in, and I made a fast-pass run for Soarin'.  I felt a little bad about this happening, but it all worked out good.  With Fast-Passes in hand, we had a bite to eat at Sunshine Seasons.  We were able to do a walk-up booking for The Behind the Seeds Tour, and the timing was perfect for Soarin'.  We then hopped on Living with the Land, and met up with our Daughter's family to continue our tour of Epcot.  Yup, I goofed again... but it all worked out pretty good.  I didn't do a good job of planning the way to get to Epcot, but it did feel good to at least have enough WDW smarts to make a "plan B" on the Fly!


   One of our friends that was with us really wanted to take a ride on Splash Mountain, and since I had 4 Fast Passes burning a hole in my pocket, we were on our way and riding in the time that it took to walk from where we were to the boarding area.

   After the ride, as we were unloading, I hear my Wife say.... "Oh NO!", I turn around and she says "I dropped my cell phone".  It seems she had it tucked into the tight little pants pocket above the regular pocket, and as she was getting out of the log vehicle, it worked it's way up and popped right out of her pocket, into the narrow space between the log and the dock - maybe 1 foot wide!  A perfect shot right into the drink!  I immediately told the nearest Cast Member, and they stopped the ride to take a look and see if there was any way to retrieve the phone. 

   I looked around and saw the line of people waiting to board, many had that "What happened?" expression on their faces.  The CM's made a valiant effort to retrieve the phone, but it was nowhere to be found, and even if we had pulled it out of the waterway, it would have been ruined.  So we felt bad for about 5 minutes, as I teased my poor Wife for "throwing things into Splash Mountain".  It was an ancient relic of a cellphone anyway, that looked like a miniature walkie-talkie.  I guess it's time to upgrade!  I just hope Brer Rabbit doesn't use up all of our minutes!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


 Another great WDW trip is now history.  7 Nights at the Bay Lake Tower in a 1 Bedroom Villa.  Our Daughter, Son-In-Law, and Grand Daughter (almost 3 years old) got the Master Bedroom, and we took the Sofa Bed.

Our room at Bay Lake Tower

 There is much to share from this trip.  Lots of great discoveries, memories, and old favorites.  Among the discoveries was our first actual visit to The Grand Floridian resort.

 With the DVC wing set to open in late 2013 or early 2014, we thought it would be a great time to go explore the "Grand Flo".  Being on the monorail line from the Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower, this was an ideal time to dive in and go explore this beautiful resort.

The Disney Vacation Club wing is moving along!

   Tammy and I had a dining reservation for the Grand Floridian Cafe, so we took the bus from Disney's Hollywood Studios to the resort, and felt welcomed as soon as we got off of the bus.  Yes, it's a little "fancy", but it's Disney fancy!  We were greeted by a warm "Welcome back" and thought this was a really nice touch.  We strolled the grounds, walked over by the Wedding Chapel where a couple and some of their friends were doing some wedding plans and waved at us with a hearty "Hi!".

Lobby of The Grand Floridian

 Lots of construction walls as they were working on the DVC wing, and one of the pools.  The grounds are very nice and well maintained.  With the Polynesian, Magic Kingdom, and Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower off in the distance, it's beautiful no matter which direction you look out onto Bay Lake.

The Polynesian Resort is walking distance from The Grand Floridian

 We went back to check in at the Grand Floridian Cafe where we were given a pager, and after less than a 10 minute wait, we were seated. 

It's a beautiful thing when the beeper goes off for dinner!


 With some fine restaurants available, dining is a pleasure at the Grand Floridian.  In addition to the Cafe, there is also Citricos, Narcoossees, 1900 Park Fare, Victoria & Alberts, and Mizner's Lounge, With Victoria & Albert's being the very formal and elegant dinner spot.

 In my opinion The Grand Floridian Cafe is a wonderful "entry level" eatery to try at The Grand Flo.  It's beautiful, light and cheerful, without being too formal.  The greeters and servers were all so pleasant and helpful.  We were seated at a nice little table for 2 by the window, but there are windows all around, so you can always see out to the beautiful resort grounds.

The Grouper was fantastic

 They brought us out some warm rolls, Sourdough and Multi-Grain, which were both delicious with butter.  And then the main event, both were amazing. 

Possibly... the BEST Burger ever?

For dinner Tammy tried the sustainable fish of the day, which was a grilled Grouper, served on a bed of veggies.  I had been looking forward to the famous Grand Floridian Burger which is an Angus Chuck burger topped off with butter poached Lobster, and served with house made chips!  We were savoring every bite and every moment of our evening.

Dinner for 2 at the Grand Flo Cafe, what a treat

 Our server - German - from Colombia made us feel right at home.  We sparked up a conversation with him, and found out that he's been working at The Grand Floridian Cafe for 10 years, and says he LOVES working there!

 We had some Coffee and Dessert to seal the deal.  It was a great meal.  How great?  Well...

The Grand Floridian is Disney's "Flagship" Resort

 A few days later, on our final night after a day of touring at The Magic Kingdom,  we had a hankerin' to share our new discovery with our group, so I offered to take them there, and called from our room to get an advanced dining reservation.

 We hopped on the monorail, cruised right over to The Grand Floridian for a mini-tour of the grounds, and another wonderful dinner.  Our server was "Dot" who had come over to the GFC from the 50's Prime Time Cafe.

 Tammy and I decided to do a little "Surf n' Turf", so I ordered the NY Strip Steak, and she got the Grouper, then we went half & half with our entrees.

Another Grand Floridian Burger fan

 Our Son-In-Law got the Grand Floridian Burger, and really enjoyed it.  Daughter got the NY Strip and a Caesar Salad.  The Seasonal soup was a Corn Chowder, and was out of this world good!  Our little Grandy just ate off of Mom & Dad's plates.

The NY Strip, cooked just right!

 The servings are pretty generous, and with the soup appetizer + rolls, we were pretty full, so we went with the Dessert Sampler which usually "serves 2" but was enough for us all to get a taste of the different desserts.

The Dessert Sampler plate was almost too pretty to eat. (I said ALMOST)

Guess who got to eat the chocolate Mickey Mouse?

 It was a great way to spend our final night of this WDW trip.  A great discovery was made, not only The Resort, but this great restaurant really made an impression on "Disney Dan & Tam".