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December 2008 Trip Report, Part 2 - Days 3 & 4


Port Orleans, French Quarter
Port Orleans French Quarter, the last moderate I hadn't stayed at.

Sunday, December 14. Day 3

Turn on the Weather Channel, and they guy says "And Orlando, perfect. Look at the weather. If you're going to the theme parks, this is the perfect week." Ahhhh... Did I mention that the wind chill was -1 when I left Chicago?

This morning is a Downtown Disney Morning. After yesterday afternoon's adventure to Downtown Disney, my guess is that opening time is the best and only time to get there. I'm out of the door at 9:00am, just as planned, and drive over to Disney's non-theme park marketing exhibition. It's 9:15am or so, and I get one of the preemo spots in Lot 1. Walk into Downtown Disney, and nothing's open. No surprise there.

Walk around taking random pictures, and get over to Captain Jack's Marina, where there's a fishing cast member casting a line. I'm about to go down and talk to him, when the family he's waiting for shows up and they pile into a pontoon boat. I still wonder what Disney would do if I just brought down my ultra-light rig and started fishing one of the lakes...

There's already a line for Days of Christmas, it's 9:27, so I get in it. At 9:30, Rainforest Cafe springs to life, all the sound, animatronics and fountains turn on. But the doors to Days of Christmas stay closed. Oh well, Disney time is Disney time.

A minute before we're let in, all of us who are waiting outside the door are forced by the CM's to get in line through the makeshift queue that snakes around the outside of the building. We all get in anyway, so I'm not sure what the point was.

They have my 2008 Christmas mug (#4 of 5), but not my 2009 mug (#5 of 5). I ask a Cast Member, and they tell me they won't have them for another month or so. When I was here in December 2006, I got the 2006 *and* the 2007 mug at the same time. I do notice they have some 2009 ornaments, but no mugs. Oh well, life's rough that way sometimes. That just means I'll have to come back within a year. I'm not sure what to buy, I don't get a discount here. I do at World of Disney, so I hold off on some general items that are probably there, too.

By the time I'm ready to leave the store, there's already a line waiting to get in. I console myself that that's the reason I got here early.

I wander next door hoping to find a nice pen/pencil set for a gift, and the writing store is gone, replaced by a custom t-shirt and scrapbooking store. I do buy the new poster du jour in Art of Disney, but that's it.

I dump my stuff in the car, and wander back into DD. I stop in at World of Disney, and buy some stocking stuffers and few things that are new, but impulse buying just doesn't happen. Not that I'm done with impulse buying, but most of the stuff has been around for years...

I also stop in Ghirdelli's for a sample piece of chocolate, and to pick up some intense dark. I can get a lot of the Ghirdelli's stuff at my local grocery store at home, but the stuff at DisneyWorld tastes better (at least it does to me, ;-) and you can't get some of the varieties anywhere else. I make a call to PiC, who wants some chocolate herself, but I get no answer. I leave a message with what's available.

It's time for breakfast/lunch, and look at both Earl of Sandwich, and a Wetzel dog. As much as I like Earl of Sandwich, the Wetzel dog wins. Mmmmm... Tasty unknown meat encased in pretzel dough. Can't beat it.

Downtown Disney
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Disney's All-Star Music Resort

I pile everything into the car, and three other cars want my spot. I'd like to know if I can sell my parking space. I'm back to All Stars, show my ID to the guard, and he asks if I know where I'm going. I'm about to ask "You mean in life, man, or just in the resort?" but I refrain. Maybe next time. (There was no next time.)

I actually grab a couple hours of sleep, making up for the sleep deprivation I've been going through for the past couple of weeks...Months...Years...For a while anyway. I get up, and with a certain amount of fortitude, take a walk around the resort. I walk around All Star Music, taking pictures for my web site, then as long as I'm here, cross the parking lot to All Star Movies, and photograph that resort as well.

All Star Music
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Disney's All-Star Movies Resort

Other than the themeing, both are much like All Star Sports. Several sets of garish three story 'T' shaped buildings grouped in pairs, each pair having a different theme. Although the last time I was here at the All Star Resorts I told myself I'd never stay here again, I broke that promise, and well, I'll never stay here again. (I think I've said that before.)

I think the best themed resort at All-Stars is Movies. Fantasia and Andy's Room alone are worth a visit. As a matter of fact, standing in front of the Jack-in-the-box, I think I know why Jack-in-the-boxes creep me out. Fantasia!

My least favorite is Sports. Could it be because Pop Warner was there when I was there? No, I just think Sports is the weakest of the trio.

All Star Movies
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I'm back to the room by 6:30pm, give Bruce a call, and he's just leaving Tampa.

Bruce shows up at 8:30, too late to go into the parks, but I do have to guide him in via cell phone. We take a walk around the resort, showing him the highlights, and also tell him not to bother to memorize anything, since we're changing resorts in the morning. We trade war stories for a couple of hours, then fall asleep.

All Star Music at Night
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Monday, December 15. Day 4

I get to vacate All Stars today, and go to the last moderate resort I hadn't stayed at, Port Orleans French Quarter. Well, I've stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, but I still regard French Quarter as a separate resort. It's themed completely differently, have their own registration desk, and sometimes their own buses.

Port Orleans French Quarter

We get up around 7:30am, actually check the map on how to get to Port Orleans, and we're there by 9:00. They don't have a room yet, but we do get the room keys, as well as a place to park the vehicles. We know we're in building 3, so we park there.

After grabbing breakfast (I had my usual breakfast platter), we take a walk around the resort. French Quarter isn't very big (it's the smallest of the moderate resorts), and it's easy to see why it was combined with Riverside. POFQ no longer has a table service restaurant, they're right next to each other, and they even share a common waterway.

Port Orleans French Quarter
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Sometime around 10:30am, we decide it's time to hit one of the parks. We get to the bus stop, and we're greeted by one of the transportation CM's, from which we get all three bus transportation cards. There's 18 WDW transportation cards that detail and show all the watercraft, monorails and busses used at WDW. (There are three different types of buses used at Disneyworld; the Gillig, the Nova and the RTS. jfyi...)

Disney Transportation Cards
Transportation card 1 Transportation card 2 Transportation card 3
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Animal Kingdom

He asks us where we're going, and we tell him where ever the first bus is headed. And it's an Animal Kingdom bus! We get to AK, and we're the *furthest* bus stop from the park. Figures. But, by 11:15, we've got a fastpass for Everest, and we're waiting in the stand-by line. (You have to ride it twice, donchaknow.)

I like Animal Kingdom. I think it's the most richly themed park at Disneyworld, and has a flavor all its own. The stand-by queue to Everest has enough to hold your interest, and it's hard telling the real from the fake...uh...fabricated.

I find it interesting that Disney calls it a "High-Speed Roller Coaster-Type Train Ride." I'd describe as a Roller Coaster thinly disguised as a train. Ah, well, must keep within the themeing rules, I guess. The lift-hill still bothers me (don't like heights, donchaknow), but once past that, I thoroughly enjoy the ride.

Expedition Everest / Animal Kingdom
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We've still got another couple of hours until our Fastpasses to Everest become valid, so we wander over to Dinoland and get on Dinosaur. We have about a 5 minute wait. Yep, still dark, still loud, and still a rough ride. But fun anyway. And it's still one of the attractions I'd like to have break down, and have to walk out of.

We still have time for our ExE Fastpass, and come across the ITTBAB entrance, so we walk in. and walk. and walk. and walk. I think it's still more fun to watch the guests than the movie, these days...

It's almost time for our ExE fastpasses, and we go to Asia, and are sad to find someone's broken the ride. CM's are walking up the stairway next to the lift hill. How often do you see that? They wave at us as if to say, "Hi, ride's broke!"

Dejectedly, we wander over to Africa, and find DeVine playing in the water along the Africa-Asia corridor. She doesn't hide her face as much these days. Perhaps she's not as shy anymore. (Hear that Kitty?)

We fastpass Kilimanjaro Safaris, and decide we'll wait the 30 minutes in line anyway. Waiting in line is less painful than walking. They've modified the script a bit (no guy at the end with the gun), but it's still a dumb story line. As we exit Africa, we gift our fastpasses to a couple walking in. Good deed done for the day. :-)

Walked back to Everest, DeVine is gone, but ExE is working! Much of the Fastpass queue is identical to the standby queue, something I'm not sure I've seen before at a Disney Attraction. They should light and highlight the Yeti a little better, it's pretty easy to miss.

I call the number I was given at Port Orleans, and they have our room ready! They give me the room number, and of course, I have no writing instrument. Luckily, there's a DVC kiosk nearby, that naturally has a pen.

So much for our day at Animal Kingdom. We know we're going into DHS for the Lights tonight, and I'm not hopeful for any decent food at that park. We don't want to eat at Port Orleans either, so we stop in at Yak and Yeti for an early dinner. It's about 3pm, and there's no wait for a table.

Yak and Yeti is basically an asian restaurant. I rate every chinese restaurant I eat at by the sweet and sour pork, and I'm about to order that, when the waiter talks me into the steak and shrimp. I have to admit, it was very good. The steak was marinated (and tenderized), the jasmine rice was real jasmine rice, and the vegetable mix was crispy and well seasoned. On the other hand, I don't know who's idea it was to shove the sticks up the shrimp's butt, but they were totally unnecessary.

Animal Kingdom
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We take the bus back to POFQ, and find our room. It's on the first floor, got a parking lot view, and you can even see my car from the room. What a deal. A short walk to the car(s), and we're unpacked.

Port Orleans French Quarter, Room Interiors
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Disney's Hollywood Studios

We leave for DHS at about 5:30 or so, and once again, Port Orleans' bus stop is the furthest stop from the gate. Wazzup wit' dat? It's 6pm and we're at the gates. The Osborn lights must have just started, since we're routed all the way around Streets of America to the back end by the stunt show before we can enter New York Street. Since we're there anyway, we wander over to Toy Story Midway Mania. There's a 90 minute standby wait, no fastpasses, it's 6:30pm and the park closes at 8pm. Bruce wants to wait, I don't. I keep telling him we have to open the park in order to do TSMM.

We go back to the lights, and I spend about 40 minutes taping the lights, then another walk-through with the still camera on the tripod. I dunno, they're still impressive, but they don't have the same impact on me that it did two years ago. They've added more and different colored lights making the street much more contrasty, changed a lot of the tuneage, and even made the original lights the Osborne's had part of the dancing theme. It wasn't exactly a disappointment, but I'm not sure it was that much of an improvement. (You can find video of the Osborne Lights here.)

On the way out, I mention Star Tours might be changed soon, so we stop in. 0 minute wait times. This attraction needs that upgrade soon...

Disney's Hollywood Studios
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End December 2008 Trip Report - Part 2.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

  • 08/22/2012 - Updated to v3
  • 12/30/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2