Day 2 - Monday, July 30
Instead of heading to a Park, we decided to visit another resort nearby -- the Art of Animation Resort. Wow, is that resort themed! The only pool that required a KTTW card for entrance was the feature pool, the Big Blue Pool which is located near Animation Hall. A CM told us that one of the features of the pool is multiple speakers located underwater so you could hear the music and voices of Nemo and Friends while swimming.
We had lunch at AoA's Layout Restaurant which is a really good quick service food court. The food selection is similar to POP but also includes made to order pastas and speciality burgers. We had the ground chicken burger and the surf and surf burger (grilled fish topped with fried shrimp), both came with seasoned french fries or vinegar cider cole slaw. We enjoyed the sandwiches, but both of us agree that the Surf and Surf burger was the best.
We will return to AoA later in our trip when the Lion King section opens. We'll post more about the Art of Animation Resort in a separate thread.
Monday evening we had dinner at Crystal Palace. So we decided to go to MK around 5:00 PM to check out some of the changes at Fantasyland. The dinner at Crystal Palace was just so-so. The food was good but at $41 per adult, it was too pricey.
After dinner, we decided we had to ride an attraction so we headed over to the Haunted Mansion. It was a very short line-10 minutes for standby and most of that time was after we were inside waiting to board our carriages. Then we crossed over into Fantasyland following the construction walls to the area formerly called Toon Town. Both of the Dumbo rides were operating and with short lines on both. BTW: The Dumbo Rides have FastPasses, but the FastPass kiosks are a short walk away at Mickey's Philharmagic attraction.
One new attraction is Casey Junior's water play area. It was lively with laughter from all the children enjoying the squirting water. That's a nice addition especially on a hot day. The Great Goofini had a bit of a line.
We rode the train from Fantasyland back to Main Street and thought about staying for the fireworks. But we don't want to overexert ourselves, so we decided to head back to Pop Century. One last photo of the Castle before we left MK:
By leaving MK before the fireworks we were hoping we would not have long lines at the MK bus stop. Not only were there no long lines, there was NO line at all, and the bus came less than a minute after we walked up to the gate. We were the only two people on the bus going back to Pop Century. To boot, we were on a 54-passenger DCL coach, so we had a very comfortable ride back to our resort.
Coming up: Moving from Pop Century to SSR.
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SSR in the Summertime, a TR by wdrl and denlo – 08-01-2012,02:26 PM
We originally planned on visiting Walt Disney World in April. However, due to some unforeseen medical issues, we had to postpone our trip. Since our DVC points went into Holding Status, we were limited to booking no more than 60 days in advance of check-in. Once the doctors said in was clear to travel, we booked a studio at SSR for July 31-August 10, 2012. In addition, we added two nights at Pop Century for July 29-31.
DAY 1 - Sunday 7/29
Its about 996 miles from our home to WDW. Its interstate all the way: I-10 to I-75 to the Florida Turnpike. We usually drive 11 hours to Marianna FL on the first day and then drive another five hours on the second day to WDW. However, on this trip we ran into some major traffic slowdowns in Mississippi and Mobile, AL which added an hour to our drive time.
We have discovered its easier to approach WDW from the west via 429 and Western Way than to loop around to I-4 from the Florida Turnpike. There was virtually no traffic on Western Way until we got to Lake Buena Vista Drive near Coronado Springs.
Since we were getting the Dining Plan for our stay at Pop Century, our confirmation notice said we needed to show proof of Park Tickets. So we headed first to Guest Relations at Downtown Disney to buy our Annual Passes and Tables in Wonderland Card. However, when we checked in at Pop, we were never asked to show our Park Passes.
Although we requested a room in the 90s, we got a room in the 50s. Turns out we had paid for a preferred room and all of the preferred rooms at Pop are in the 50s and 60s. Our room was in great location, near Classic Hall, the pool, and parking. We even had a guard dog right outside our door.
We grabbed a snack at Pop's food court and picked up our refillable drink mugs. The CM said the drink mugs could be refilled at any resort but not at a Park. By the way: The TiW card is honored at Pop's food court.
We had a dinner ADR at Akershus, so around 3:30 PM we took the bus to Epcot. There was hardly anyone waiting to catch a bus at Pop and we were the only ones on the Epcot bus. When we got to Epcot, I was amazed how light the crowds were. The only exception was the Stand By line for Soarin' which was at 180 minutes. A CM joked with us that the crowds appeared to be so light because everyone was in line for Soarin'. Actually, the CM thought with Test Track down, everyone is going to Soarin' instead.
Our dinner at Akershus was excellent. We've eaten there before and we were surprised to see half the tables were empty. We had the salmon entree and the catch of the day. Both were excellent. We got photos of all of the princesses, too! We'd definitely do Akershus again.
The catch of the day was a cod dish:
denlo and Cinderella:
wdrl and Snow White:
After dinner it was still quite warm, so we decided to head back to Pop Century. Once back at Pop, we walked around the resort looking at the oversized icons.
Stuck in the 60s:
Our home in the nifty fifties:
Once back in our room, we thought about what to do the next day. Some people plan their days at Disney almost to the minute. We, on the other hand, have been known to let the next Disney bus decide which Park we will visit next. Since we had an ADR for dinner at Crystal Palace for Monday, we knew we'd be at Magic Kingdom in the evening. But what should we do in the morning?
Coming up: A visit to Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Last edited by denlo; 08-02-2012 at 04:59 AM.
Last edited by wdrl; 08-01-2012 at 05:40 PM.
Having a MAGICal Time
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
- New Haven, CT
- My DVC Home(s)
- Animal Kingdom Villas
- Member Since
Great TR and great pics!
I love when you have good bus mojo
Day 3 - Tuesday 7/31
Today, we moved from Pop Century to Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. We checked in at SSR around 9:00 AM and the CM quickly found our packet. Both Pop Century and SSR are using smaller Welcome folders that are half the size of the older ones. Don't know whether this change has been implemented at all resorts.
At first, we were going to be assigned to a studio in the Paddock section, but since it wasn't ready, the CM found a studio that was available in the Grandstand section. However, it was in the building closest to the Treehouses -- and farthest from the Carriage House, so we told the CM we'd wait for the studio in the Paddock. The CM then checked with a supervisor to see if any Paddock studios were available. They quickly found one in a great location: We are in 5712, which is in the building right next to the Paddock Pool. Its also right next to the Paddock bus station, the laundry room (which is important to us since we are in a studio for 10 days), and the walking bridge to the Carriage House.
This is the current, or "old", soft goods at SSR:
A view from our balcony
Even though all SSR buildings have elevators, we had Bell Services unload our car and bring it up to our villa.
Our villa is in very good shape. We called maintenance because the wooden nob was missing on the closet door. It has an iHome clock which is extremely hard to set the time correctly. It still has the old soft goods and does not have the new RFID locks.
We walked around and took photos of the resort, then took a boat from SSR to Downtown Disney. A CM at Pop Century told us a new limited edition Roger Rabbit vinylmation had just been released. We aren't vinylmation fans but we love Roger, so we stopped by the vinylmation store to check out Roger. Unfortunately, Roger is a 9" vinylmation, and he wasn't all that cute. If it had been a 3" vinylmation, we would have bought it, but not as a 9" vinylmation.
Here are a couple photos of SSR. We think its a beautiful resort.
We checked out a few of the DTD stores and returned to SSR to have lunch. We had the cheeseburger flatbread at Artist Palette and thought it was quite good.
We noticed that the SSR gift store has several resort and DVC specific items for sale. A CM supervisor said Disney will continue to offer these items as long as people continue to buy them. So far, the CM said, the response to these items has been very good.
Some items for sale at SSR:
Although not for sale, I thought this was cute and in keeping with SSR's theme:
We rested up in the villa for awhile, and wondered what we should do in the evening. We decided to head to BLT and check out the Top of the World Lounge. We took a bus to the Magic Kingdom and decided to check out the construction site for the new Villas at Grand Floridian before heading to TOTWL. We took the Resort Line monorail and snapped several photos as the monorail flew pass the new VGF. We'll have more later on the VGF construction.
At BLT, the CM checked us in, saw our blue DVC card, and made note of the resort we were staying at. We arrived at the TOTWL about 6:20 PM and there was one other couple in the lounge. The CM said that business has picked up since the TOTWL was opened to all DVC members. However, most people still arrive about 30 minutes before the nightly fireworks show. We stayed about an hour and a few more couples showed up. Some families also walked through the lounge but didn't stay.
TOTWL about 3 and 1/2 hours before the MK fireworks:
We walked back to the MK bus station and caught a bus back to SSR. So far on this trip we've been very fortunate using Disney transportation. Almost every time we've waited no more than two minutes for our ride to come.
We talked to my sister Tuesday night. She and her family are flying in this weekend and staying at BLT for three nights. My sister is an uber-planner and commando at heart and was shocked to hear that we had been at WDW for three days and only ridden one attraction -- the Haunted Mansion.
Coming up: Hollywood Studios and another 1st.
Day 4 - Wednesday 8/01
Our plan for today was to be at Animal Kingdom at 8:00 AM for rope drop. However, I awoke at 1:30 AM and didn't fall back asleep until 5:30 AM. By the time we woke up again, we knew it was too late to make AK's rope drop. Instead, we drove over to Hollywood Studios, arriving just after its 9:00 AM. About the only advantage of denlo's recent medical issues is that we now have a handicap placard for our car. The handicap parking at DHS is really close to the main gate, so we were through the turnstiles in no time.
Our usual DHS routine is to rush ahead and get FastPasses for Toy Story Mania and then immediately get in TSM's stand by line. Although we had missed DHS's rope drop by less than 15 minutes, I was quite surprised to find no line waiting to get FastPasses and no line outside of TSM waiting to get in. Turns out that DHS has changed its rope drop policy, resulting in a significant change in how the crowds hit TSM first thing in the morning. See this thread for more info.
Each time we visit DHS, I pay attention to the billboards that are on the back of the Great Movie Ride building. There are two billboards for Pixar's Brave:
It only took 17 minutes to go through TSM's stand-by queue. We thought about riding it again, but the the sign said TSM's stand-by time was 70 minutes. Instead, we headed over to Star Tours. It had a 10 minute stand-by time, but it was a lot faster than that. We ended up riding Star Tours three times in a row.
The Star Tours gift store has undergone some changes since were last visited in October 2011. It now has a "Build Your Own Droid" section. Each droid costs $11.95, or two for $19.95. Here are the droids we built:
Since our TSM FS return time was not until 11:15, we had to kill some time. Talked to a CM at a DVC kiosk, who of course could tell us nothing that we didn't already know about VGF. The CM also gave us each a DVC member button.
After using our FastPasses to ride TSM, we went to Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for lunch. Even though we had no reservation, they seated us within 5 minutes. It was the first time we ate at Sci-Fi. I had a hamburger and denlo had a turkey sandwich. I have to admit, I actually remember seeing some of the movies that were being shown on the big "drive-in" screen.
Security at DHS is always top notch:
It was almost 2:00 PM by now, and we thought about heading over to Tower of Terror. But we are still trying to take it easy and not overdue it, so we headed back to SSR. It started to rain just as we were walking to our car, but it stopped raining before we got back home. We did some laundry and worked on our trip report.
We noticed that Animal Kingdom was open until 8:00 PM, so at 5:00 PM we decided to drive over there. On the way to AK, we saw the sign for the Fantasia mini golf course. We've always talked about playing a round of mini golf at WDW, but had never gotten around to do it. So, we decided to skip AK and play golf instead.
Annual Passholders get a significant discount at Fantasia. I didn't realize there are actually two golf courses at Fantasia: A classic mini golf course with windmills, bumpers, etc., and a true putting course. We opted for the classic course.
Here is the mushroom hole on the Fantasia course:
We returned to SSR and had something to eat at Artist Palette. Headed home and watched some of the Olympic coverage on TV. Also, we are starting to keep an eye on Tropical Depression #5. Its still far out in the Atlantic, but it might reach hurricane status by next Wednesday. We know enough about tropical storms to know that their paths can quickly change, not to mention their intensity.
Coming up: Animal Kingdom? Magic Kingdom? Who knows.
What a fabulously written detailed report, and what great pics, I am loving every minute of it. The Bullseye with the roses is so cute. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us, looking forward to the next installment!
Last edited by idratherbeinwdw; 08-02-2012 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Wanted to mention bullseye :)
Loving your TR! Glad you are having a good time and I must say, it sounds like "my kind of trip". When DH & I go we really don't make plans for each day. Just whatever we feel like but we do make several ADRs. Looking forward to reading more and thanks for sharing.Paula
OKW - 10/11-10/21