Saturday, September 24, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 1

Day 1 – 5/21 - Departure Day & Epcot

After visiting Walt Disney World in late August/earlySeptember a few times, we wanted to mix things up a little bit, so we scheduleda May trip. On our last trip we had renewed our annual passes, and since theywere running a special 15-month renewal, we figured we would be able to use ourDVC points for a value studio at Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House, and usethe remaining Southwest Rapid Rewards tickets that were due to expire later in2011. That would enable us to go in May and October, with the onlyout-of-pocket expenses being for food!

We woke up early and were out the door a little before6:00am.  We live about an hour and 15minutes east of Buffalo,which is the closest city that Southwest flies to. It was a little foggy aroundour house, but when we hit the NYS Thruway, the fog really got thick.

Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic on the road, and eventhough we were driving more slowly than usual, we got to the airport right onschedule. We had a little time to kill, so DD and I spent it reading the 3rdKingdom Keepers book. She really enjoys how the characters are in the Disney Parksand riding the same rides she knows.

I was a little concerned, with all the fog, that ouroutbound flight would be delayed. As 8:35 am approached, it wasn’t letting up.But they didn’t seem concerned. We boarded the plane and took off on time.

DD brought her cat, Kaleidoscope and a bunch of books on theplane. She also had the Star Wars trilogy on her iPod so she could get into theproper Star Wars Weekend frame of mind.

We landed in Orlandoand made our way to the National counter to pick a car from the Emerald Aisle.Now that DD is old enough and strong enough, we enlist her help to schlep thebags.

We like the Emerald Aisle, because you pay for a midsizecar, but you can pick any car that’s in the Emerald Aisle. Once we got aconvertible. This time there were a lot of midsize cars, and a couple of miniSUVs. We picked a white mini-SUV, a Dodge Nitro.

We loaded up our luggage and drove straight to AnimalKingdom Lodge. We love to take this photo every time we go. The usually don’tturn out well, but this one did.

We checked in at the hotel and were excited to learn thatour value studio had a savanna view, and it was ready!

There are a very limited number of value studios, and theyare all at Jambo. 40% of them are savanna view, 40% are pool view and 20% areparking lot view. You can request a view, but you can’t reserve one. But it’sreally the best value in DVC. For about half the points as a regular savannaview room, we got a room that is literally 3-feet shorter, and still has a viewof the savanna.

We’re doing the same thing in October, and we have ourfingers crossed that we’ll get a savanna view again.

After checking in and freshening up a bit, we headed out forEpcot. It was a little after 12:00, and we had an early dinner scheduled for3:30 at Teppan Edo. We were on the Disney Dining Plan for most of the trip,although at one point halfway through we switched to the Deluxe Plan for onenight, then back to the regular plan. It was an arrangement that available forDVC members for a while earlier in the year, but I just learned that they havediscontinued this practice as of September.

Upon arriving at Epcot, we grabbed FastPasses for a KimPossible mission, and made our way to the World Showcase. With a little time tokill before we could receive our secret agent assignment, we wandered aroundthe UKa little bit.

As we made our way to the back of the pavilion, I noticedsome shenanigans going on between Tigger and Alice. He was chasing her in andout of the building.

 It was a little surreal, but it was funny to watch. I’m notsure if Alicewas flirting with Tigger, or vice versa. Eventually Alice’s handler came out and took her over toher meet and greet location. Pooh and Tigger calmed down enough for a picture.

After that we received our mission: to help Kim Possible,Ron Stoppable and their friend Wade stop Duff Killigan. DD has done all of theKP missions multiple times over the last couple of years. They’re really welldone, and have enabled DW and I to see parts of the various pavilions weprobably wouldn’t normally see.

 This mission included getting instructions from the toysolder at Toy Soldier. It’s really cool how they work the game elements intothe overall theming. Notice how the blocks in the window spell “Kim?”

DD had to give a secret phrase to one of the employees atthe Tea Caddy. He really hammed it up, making sure no one was watching while heretrieved a package to help further the mission.

Once Duff Killigan’s plans were thwarted we headed over toTeppan Edo. We were pretty hungry by this point, and Teppan is one of DD’sfavorite restaurants. The show started off with the usual onion volcano –although this chef built hers higher than I had ever seen before.

 It was at Teppan Edo that DD first tried shrimp, and she’sbeen a shrimp fiend ever since. She ordered the chicken and shrimp, and Iordered the steak and shrimp. I gave her some of my steak, which made herpretty happy. Either that, or she was excited about her spring-loadedchopsticks.

After dinner the servers came out and put a hat on DD’s headand sang Happy Birthday. Her birthday was later in the week, and she wore herbutton proudly and frequently was greeted with “Happy Birthday Princess!”

 After dinner we headed back to the hotel. Since we hadgotten started so early in the morning we wanted to call it an early night. Onour way back to the parking lot we took some pictures of the landscaping. TheFlower and Garden Festival had just wrapped up, but there were still beautifulflowers and topiaries around.

 When we got back to our room we looked out the balcony andsaw that it was feeding time on the savanna.

This ostrich was just about always in this spot. He (she?)didn’t do much. Not an attractive bird.

After a bath and getting tucked in, the kid was wiped out.She was asleep within minutes of hitting the pillows. She likes sleeping on thepull out couch in the room. It’s a novelty to her, and we’re not going todispel that notion.

After she fell asleep DW and I sat out on the balcony watching the giraffes. I used my iPhone to edit together a movie using iMovie for iOS. It's surprisingly powerful considering I'm editing HD video, adding music, titles and transitions on a phone. Here's the finished product, which I'd put up against any video edited on a home computer.

Up next, the Force is strong with this one.

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