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/early September a few times, we wanted to mix things up a little bit, so we scheduled a May trip. On our last trip we had renewed our annual passes, and since they were running a special 15-month renewal, we figured we would be able to use our DVC points for a value studio at Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House, and use the remaining Southwest Rapid Rewards tickets that were due to expire later in 2011. That would enable us to go in May and October, with the only out-of-pocket expenses being for food!

We woke up early and were out the door a little before 6:00am.  We live about an hour and 15 minutes east of Buffalo, which is the closest city that Southwest flies to. It was a little foggy around our house, but when we hit the NYS Thruway, the fog really got thick.

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

I was a little concerned, with all the fog, that our outbound 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 the plane. She also had the Star Wars trilogy on her iPod so she could get into the proper Star Wars Weekend frame of mind.

We landed in Orlando and 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 the bags.

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

We loaded up our luggage and drove straight to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We love to take this photo every time we go. The usually don’t turn out well, but this one did.

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

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

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

After checking in and freshening up a bit, we headed out for Epcot. It was a little after 12:00, and we had an early dinner scheduled for 3:30 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 one night, then back to the regular plan. It was an arrangement that available for DVC members for a while earlier in the year, but I just learned that they have discontinued this practice as of September.

Upon arriving at Epcot, we grabbed FastPasses for a Kim Possible mission, and made our way to the World Showcase. With a little time to kill before we could receive our secret agent assignment, we wandered around the UK a little bit.

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

 It was a little surreal, but it was funny to watch. I’m not sure if Alice was flirting with Tigger, or vice versa. Eventually Alice’s handler came out and took her over to her 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 the KP missions multiple times over the last couple of years. They’re really well done, and have enabled DW and I to see parts of the various pavilions we probably wouldn’t normally see.

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

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

Once Duff Killigan’s plans were thwarted we headed over to Teppan Edo. We were pretty hungry by this point, and Teppan is one of DD’s favorite 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’s been a shrimp fiend ever since. She ordered the chicken and shrimp, and I ordered the steak and shrimp. I gave her some of my steak, which made her pretty happy. Either that, or she was excited about her spring-loaded chopsticks.

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

 After dinner we headed back to the hotel. Since we had gotten started so early in the morning we wanted to call it an early night. On our way back to the parking lot we took some pictures of the landscaping. The Flower and Garden Festival had just wrapped up, but there were still beautiful flowers and topiaries around.

 When we got back to our room we looked out the balcony and saw 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 the pull out couch in the room. It’s a novelty to her, and we’re not going to dispel 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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