We flew late afternoon of the 19th. We packed snacks on the plane so we didn't feel left out when snack time came on the flight (mostly me, not SO!). Our flight was early, arriving around 11 p.m.
We went to the super shuttle "kiosk" on the street. It was empty, except there was a phone sitting on the stool. Strange. It was nice of one of the drivers to pull over and phone in our reservation to dispatch after we'd waited 5 minutes. Another 10-15 minutes later we got picked up. Then the driver drove around the airport 3 more times because he wanted to pick up more fares. I understand why; but it did not make me happy! Their scheduling system needs refining. 2 hours after we landed we arrived at the Quality Inn 1441 Manchester Ave.
We were not happy with this motel. It cost $100 with tax in an advance purchase. It smelled like urine in the entryway of our room and there was an unidentified substance dried on the toilet lid. Water pressure was low and didn't get warm in the sink. A spider came out of the tub in the morning. It was noisy from the road. However, the beds were REALLY comfy! In the morning the front desk girl had us take an unmarked van shuttle when I asked her to call us a cab. It was fine and I gave him $10. I should have aimed lower since there was no price spoken of to start with. Strange. We made it to our new hotel the Crowne Plaza.
While I was not a fan of this hotel it was a way better deal than the motel! We got it on Priceline. It was $100 a night with tax and the $16 daily resort fee (includes tax). Pro's: quiet, nice pool, large room, shuttles every 30 min., fridge. Con's: Shuttle didn't always have A/C, no in room safe, smoking sections were right by the entry to the pool and shuttle waiting area. I feel the customer service is lacking at this hotel. Everyone was just nice enough to not be rude. With the exception of the valet parking guy on duty at 4 p.m. Wednesday but he wasn't helping us he was just chatty. The pool was closed between 1-3 and 7:30-9 (I think). Don't close the pool in the afternoon, people! But if you MUST please slip a paper under the doors so the guests know about it!
Our super shuttle to the airport was GREAT. We had one more stop after us and we were at the airport in under an hour right before rush hour started at 4. Note: They give you a time window but pick you up at the end of the time window. Ours was 3:45-4 and he was there at 3:58! However, this went way better than I was expecting based on our last trip where the driver didn't seem to know his way around.
So, now the fun part! We were $50 over budget for this trip. We always have a budget, as any good traveler should. But this time it was tight! $48 of that was for the hotel resort fee $16 with tax. I knew about it but when I was making up all my calculations I forgot about it. So, I'm not going to count this.
If we'd have $50 less for food than we did (making it $25 a day) we'd wouldn't have had an enjoyable trip. We were only $2 over our food budget! So, I am vindicated by all the naysayers who said I couldn't do it on $37.50 a day. But thankful to all those who rooted me on in support. It really turned out to be a fun little part of our trip this budgeting food thing. I usually smack $100/day budget for in the parks and add it up when we get home and always come in under.
This time I made a reminder checklist on my phone. I put dollar increments on in that I thought we'd spend. Several $4's, 5's & 6'es for snacks. More 8's, 10's and 12's for entrees. Sometimes our amounts didn't add up perfectly to those #'s so I'd edit two of them and check one off. Alternately I'd check off two of the smaller increments that added up. One note to help you should you decide to watch your budget while in the park... Round! Up or down, we always evened out.
Our first day, Sunday, the park was busy. Obviously! It's Sunday! Plus, we weren't there early. Maybe we got there around 11. We were trying to rest and relax more than usual on this trip. We spend $30 total on food. I'd say a little less than budget because we had a small breakfast included at our motel. We spent all day at DL. So, my advice to people who ask about the parkhopper that are on a budget (we have AP, so our budget wasn't affected by this)... Skip it! Especially if you're new to DLR and if you have kids you just can't jump back and forth. Also, it's a lot different now that the lines are so long. Even at the most random times of day that we'd try to parkhop there would usually be at least 5 people in each line. The past is over-DCA is different.
Day 1 Itinerary: Picked up Space Mountain FP, rode Mad Tea Party, Mr. Toad, and Pooh. Then we ate at Bengal BBQ. We got one meat skewer, one veggie and a jalapeno filled pretzel that we shared. This energized us for Pirates and we picked up a FP for Splash Mountain.
We rode Space Mountain next. Then we checked something off my list! We went on the Casey Jr. Circus Train for the first time. We sat in the very back. It was a cute little ride. After that we rode Splash Mountain. We were in the back so we didn't get wet.
Next up a FP for Star Tours. I had fries at Tomorrowland Terrace for a snack. SO had a Coke Zero we brought in. Next up a chili dog at Coke Corner. I thought the portion size was large. Especially compared to the chili dog purchased later in the trip at Award Wiener's. However, this one resulted in an upset tummy for the carnivore in our family.
We tried out Beauty & the Beast at the Fantasy Faire Royal Theater. I like the colors here. I didn't like the show, I'm not into shows. I thought it'd be more like Aladdin but on a smaller scale. Nope. The seats aren't comfy either. Tip, get the back row! At least you can lean up against the railing. But don't sit on the right side. You can't see part of the show (even from the benches that aren't marked) and you hear the light operator, etc. giving commands.
Star Tours was next. I forget the scenes we saw. I think asteroids and the underwater world. We left the park to take a break at the hotel. We were way too hot! It didn't help that I forgot my packet of lemon flavoring for my water so I wasn't drinking it--just can't handle the taste of tap water.
When we returned we ate at Harbour Galley for dinner after getting an Indiana Jones FP. We shared a bread boule of chili. I asked her to put it in a cup for I think she forgot. I hate when the bread gets soggy. Now, the moment I've been waiting for... Fireworks! There didn't seem to be many seats left but about 15 mintues before the show I sat on the sidewalk facing the castle just past the food cart. I climbed over the rope. I felt kind of bad that people had been waiting there a long time and I was walking in front of them but there was plenty of space on the pavement. I didn't feel bad after they asked us to stand up and about 500 people walked in front of me as they were directed to crowd together. I had a great view and I loved the show!
Next we rode Indy, and used a Star Tours FP that I can't remember when we picked it up. We finished our night at an empty Astro Blasters. The park closed while we were on the Astro Blaster! All in all, a great day!
Day 2: We took 24,394 steps. Almost 9 miles! We spent $47 on food. Boo, we went over!
Our first stop in DCA was to get a FP for tower since we got there around 11 and it was too late to get a FP for RSR. They'd just run out. We also got a FP for Screamin'. Then we rode the Silly Symphony Swings and Goofy's Sky School.
We shared a pizza at Boardwalk Pizza. I learned about Gluten Free. She told me she'd go get the chef. Well, we aren't here to cause trouble. We don't NEED to be GF, we just prefer eating less gluten. So, I said no thanks and we got one they had there. I wish they had some GF items pre-made and just sitting there for the taking. Now, here's where we went over budget. We walked past the salads. They looked sooo good! (Way better than the ones at Pizza Port BTW.) They didn't have TOO much dressing but could have done with a little less. So, we got one of those too. Then we were stuffed!
After lunch we went to use our Screamin' FP. Then our Tower of Terror FP. After that we needed to cool off on Little Mermaid. We were still hot and decided to use our hotel pool. This is the debacle I talked about earlier. We got all dressed and went down to see a sign posted on the pool door. Ridiculous!
We went back got a FP for Soarin and ToT. We road Soarin, the Silly Swings and Goofy then got another FP for Screamin'. We used our TOT FP and watched It's Tough to be a Bug. Next up Heimlich. We smelled good things on this one! After SO was gracious enough to wait on Toy Story Midway Mania after using our Screamin' FP. We made it in time to draw Donald at the Animation Academy. The female artist was too fast for me and I wasn't impressed with her teaching skills. Since we were so close we got to go to Award Wiener's! I love the Portobello sub. Unfortunately my bun was broken and it was kind of messy to eat. They had Muppets & Monster's closed for some special party for a tech convention going on. The chili dog here was not as good a value as at Coke Corner IMO.
As we were leaving the park they asked if I'd do a survey. I did. It was about food. Are we offering healthy things, etc. Not really! She gave me a sticker. That seemed more offensive to me than giving nothing. I did think they'd at least give a free pretzel or something. Nope! The survey took some time and I had to go in the building to use one of their computers.
I just looked at the receipts I still have, at some point we each got two scoops at Clarabelle's. I don't like Dreyer's Ice cream. The cookies and cream was OK I supposed but not mint. It's too melty also. They need to get Baskin Robbins or Haagen Daaz in there, especially at the prices they charge.
We also had a mickey pretzel with cheese in line for Toy Story. The cheese is enough for 2 pretzels but not a good value if you're buying only 1 pretzel!
Day 3: We spent $31 and got 27,491 steps! I gave up making notes at this point in our trip and I can't remember much sorry!
I know I finally got my Dole Whip! SO had a float from Golden Horseshoe and didn't like it.
We had Spaghetti w/meatballs for lunch at the Boardwalk. It was good. Could have used a touch more sauce IMO.
I think this is the day that also made our budget a little interesting. When we left the park we decided we wanted to go to Red Robin as it was right by the hotel. We should have shared a veggie burger. We were TOO stuffed! Plus, I had an app salad because they have happy hour at 4-6 and 8-?
This was not our good day for FP. We got here early enough (right at 9) to get a RSR FP. I knew we didn't need to be there that early to get one but it just worked out that way. the line back back near the Animation Bldg. Took me 15 min. I met SO at Toy Story and was informed we could have ridden 5 times with no wait. Bummer! Wish I hadn't got the RSR. We never got to ride it. We came at our 3:00 time and it had just broken down. When we came back later it had just broken down again. After the 1st one we tried to use our Space FP and it was broken down. At least we were able to use it later!
We went to Innoventions this day. It's not as bad as people say. I should have gone in before judging it. I did a car racing game I liked. It was nice to be out of the sun for a bit. It was way too crowded with the iron man thing going on. It closed prior to 8 the night before so we just went early in the day. It was hard to get pix. I wanted to play one of the games that looked kind of like that one Olympic ice pushing game where they sweep. Too big of a line.
Day 4: We slept in then got our stuff packed and dropped it at the bell desk. When we got to the park we got a FP for Space and since we were there decided to get a snack at Redd Rockets. Mistake. We ended up with the Penne. But neither that nor the Spaghetti looked as good as the offering at Boardwalk Pizza. They were kind of dry. However, we decided this trip we want to do more sharing like this in the future. For $9 we were each full. Instead we each could have gotten a Dole Whip for $8 (which was our budget for this snack, $1 over!) but what empty calories!
For dinner before we left the park to catch our shuttle to the airport we stopped at Rancho del Zocalo. I love this place. However, the portions seem to have gotten smaller. I still think it's a good deal and I really like the food but I'm not impressed with the decrease in amount of food. You used to get 3 soft tacos. Now it's only 2. Maybe the shells are bigger though, I'm not sure. We were still full after sharing. We got veggies instead of beans, I think that's more filling.
I also finally got to try the Sweet Memories cake. I loved it. It even had glitter on it!
All in all we had a great trip. I don't like doing last minute stuff so hopefully this won't occur in the future. Switching hotels did put a damper on things.
Our 2nd $1 over was on the plane. We saved enough to each get one of the snack packs. They're generally $6 but the one SO wanted was $7. I knew that's the one we'd end up getting but it just didn't fit in the budget.
Well, what a educational trip it was. I don't feel fat leaving DLR for once, I guess it was all that sharing! I loved it! Will definitely cut the DLR food budget down in the future. However, after eating 4 days of meals there we did need a change. It's important to eat off the resort our in Downtown Disney. We will have enough money to do that on our next trip!
One more thing, Grad night was Wed. We left at 3 p.m. but we had no trouble all day. The park was a tad bit busier but the few grads I saw were with their parents. There were some annoying middle schooler's one day but it didn't really affect our trip as we just saw them on the one ride.