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  1. #1

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    First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Hi everyone, I'm a first time poster but long time Disney fan (not to mention coaster enthusiast). In lieu of a long introduction, I'll just point you to www.gregscoasterphotos.com for anyone who is curious. For now, I'll get right to it.

    Here are the details. I just booked a week-long vacation at WDW, flying out Saturday, Jan 10th, spending Sun-Fri (6 days), and flying back to CA the following Saturday. We'll be staying at the Pop Century Resort, and likely getting a 6 day park hopper pass. Keep in mind, I've never stayed at a WDW resort hotel, and I haven't been to WDW in almost 10 years (AK had JUST opened).

    - How is the Pop Century? Is it any better/worse than the other value resorts? I noticed it is separated from the All Star resorts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    - How reliable/regular is the bus transportation? I am intent on getting to the parks before/as they open, and I wanted to know how realistic it is and how much travel time I need to allow. How long does it take to get from one park to another on the buses?

    - What are some good non-park restaurants (in hotels, downtown disney, boardwalk)? I'm not a millionaire, but enjoying a nice restaurant or two is definitely in the plans.

    - Is Boardwalk area worth visiting? From what I remember, Downtown Disney was worth a visit, but I don't know how compares.

    - Is the Magical Express service to/from the airport as convenient as it seems? It looks too good to be true.

    - From what I remember, crowds were light during my visits in February. Has anyone been in early January that can comment?

    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?

    Ok, that's all that comes to mind at the moment. If you can't tell, I'm looking forward to this one! Any advice is much appreciated!

  2. #2

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    Hi everyone, I'm a first time poster but long time Disney fan (not to mention coaster enthusiast). In lieu of a long introduction, I'll just point you to www.gregscoasterphotos.com for anyone who is curious. For now, I'll get right to it.

    Here are the details. I just booked a week-long vacation at WDW, flying out I Saturday, Jan 10th, spending Sun-Fri (6 days), and flying back to CA the following Saturday. We'll be staying at the Pop Century Resort, and likely getting a 6 day park hopper pass. Keep in mind, I've never stayed at a WDW resort hotel, and I haven't been to WDW in almost 10 years (AK had JUST opened).

    - How is the Pop Century? Is it any better/worse than the other value resorts? I noticed it is separated from the All Star resorts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    - How reliable/regular is the bus transportation? I am intent on getting to the parks before/as they open, and I wanted to know how realistic it is and how much travel time I need to allow. How long does it take to get from one park to another on the buses?

    - What are some good non-park restaurants (in hotels, downtown disney, boardwalk)? I'm not a millionaire, but enjoying a nice restaurant or two is definitely in the plans.

    - Is Boardwalk area worth visiting? From what I remember, Downtown Disney was worth a visit, but I don't know how compares.

    - Is the Magical Express service to/from the airport as convenient as it seems? It looks too good to be true.

    - From what I remember, crowds were light during my visits in February. Has anyone been in early January that can comment?

    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?

    Ok, that's all that comes to mind at the moment. If you can't tell, I'm looking forward to this one! Any advice is much appreciated!

    Hi!

    I prefer the Pop Century to other value resorts. It is more centrally located and always seems better maintained. I like the music played and food court as well.

    I don't like the bus service, anywhere. I'd give an hour to get anywhere. It won't always take that long, but it can if you have a line and need to wait for a 2nd bus.

    I like the Boardwalk, but I don't go so often for the evening. If you like dueling pianos, there is Jellyrolls. There is also the ESPN, and entertainment on the boardwalk itself.

    Magical Express gets mostly good reviews.

    Early January has been busy the past few years.

    EMH is either one hour earlier, or three hours later.

    It is hard to comment on restaurants, since it depends on what you are looking for.
    Denise

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  3. #3

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - How is the Pop Century? Is it any better/worse than the other value resorts? I noticed it is separated from the All Star resorts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
    Having stayed at all the but one of the value resorts I honestly think that Pop Century is the best value resort on property. I have stayed there 4 times in the past, never a bad experience in the bunch. With Pop you get your own dedicated bus service (no sharing like the ASR), a better location, a better food court/store, a better layout and frozen coke for your refillable mug. The food court can get sort of crowded around the different meal times, so you might want to watch out for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - How reliable/regular is the bus transportation? I am intent on getting to the parks before/as they open, and I wanted to know how realistic it is and how much travel time I need to allow. How long does it take to get from one park to another on the buses?
    In my experience, the longest you should have to wait is 15 to 20 min for a bus. Travel time varies between where you are going (DHS is closer to Pop than MK). I would give myself 40 min to an hour from the time I leave the room for total travel depending on the destination.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - What are some good non-park restaurants (in hotels, downtown disney, boardwalk)? I'm not a millionaire, but enjoying a nice restaurant or two is definitely in the plans.
    There are plenty of good restaurants not in the parks. Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge, The California Grill at The Contemporary, The Earl of Sandwich (more of a lunch thing) at Downtown Disney all come to mind. I would suggest reading some reviews around the net and making a decision for yourself. Remember that food can get kind of pricey at WDW.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - Is Boardwalk area worth visiting? From what I remember, Downtown Disney was worth a visit, but I don't know how compares.
    Yes it is. Jelly Rolls is a nice piano bar that is a very relaxing place with an adult feel. Plus, the overall atmosphere of The Boardwalk is great. I say give it a look if you have a chance.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - Is the Magical Express service to/from the airport as convenient as it seems? It looks too good to be true.
    I can't comment on ME. I live in Georgia, so I always drive.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - From what I remember, crowds were light during my visits in February. Has anyone been in early January that can comment?
    As long as you are a few days after New Years, you should be fine. I have heard it can get kind of busy around Martin Luther King Day though.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?
    I have never experienced a time when they did not give you 3 hours. I think the reason Disney says up to 3 hours is more to cover themselves if they have to close early for some reason. Plan on them being 3 hours, I doubt you will have an EMH that is shorter.

    Normally, Morning EMH is less crowded than Evening EMH. Expect crowds at Evening EMH, but towards the end it should begin to thin out.
    Last edited by Krankenstein; 08-12-2008 at 06:42 PM.

  4. #4

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    - How reliable/regular is the bus transportation? I am intent on getting to the parks before/as they open, and I wanted to know how realistic it is and how much travel time I need to allow. How long does it take to get from one park to another on the buses?

    - What are some good non-park restaurants (in hotels, downtown disney, boardwalk)? I'm not a millionaire, but enjoying a nice restaurant or two is definitely in the plans.

    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?
    Hi there! I can help answer these questions.

    1. When our family went last summer, the bus system was great. It got us everywhere we needed to be without renting a car. We just left maybe 45 minutes before the park opened or Extra MAgic Hours Began and we were fine.

    2. Two great restaurants we expirieced at the hotels were 'Ohana at The Polynesian and Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both are great and not terribly expensive.

    3. EMH is a greeat tool, and we found ourselves more often then not just Going of the morning Extra magic hour and leaving the park at 11, then going to the Evening EMH park at about 3 or 4. On Disney's website you can find out the information on what parks will have EMH in use on which dates. But this, in my opinion, is the best perk of staying on-resort, so do take advantage of it.

    Enjoy your trip!
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  5. #5

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    I stayed at Pop Century and never waited more than 20 minutes for a bus. There did seem to be a large crowd trying to get to the early magic hours, count on being ready really early if you intend to take advantage.

    No complaints about the hotel. You might not want to overlook the pool, I got the impression it would be loud fairly late into the evening.

    I enjoyed visiting the Boardwalk area my first night, had a good meal at the Flying Fish. I wouldn't necesscarily make a special trip there given the relatively short length of your stay however.
    My Micechat cruise trip report, Part 1:http://micechat.com/14795-disney-wonder/

  6. #6

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    If you only get to visit every decade or so then I would also consider a visit to Universal instead of spending the whole time at Disney. Islands of Adventure would be a worthwhile visit if you are a coaster fan, plus for Spider Man...possibly the best ride not available out west. Over at the other park MIB is another ride not in CA plus the Mummy is supposed to better than its CA cousin.

    I would definitely go to AK again. If you appreciate good theming then all of Asia is worth checking out...most of that wasn't there when the park opened.

    Philharmagic, Mission Space, Rock n Roller Coaster are east coast exclusives (within US of course) that weren't there ten years ago, if my memory serves me right...so those should probably be on your itenary.

    Have fun!
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  7. #7

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    - How is the Pop Century? Is it any better/worse than the other value resorts? I noticed it is separated from the All Star resorts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
    I love Pop Century. I've stayed there 3 times so far and I'm staying there again this week. Never stayed at the All Star resorts, but from what I know, Pop Century is much quieter. If you're a pop culture junkie like I am, you'll love it.

    - How reliable/regular is the bus transportation? I am intent on getting to the parks before/as they open, and I wanted to know how realistic it is and how much travel time I need to allow. How long does it take to get from one park to another on the buses?
    I was leery of using it, but it ended up not being bad at all. The busses run approximately every 20 minutes or so. As far as park to park on the busses, the only ones that do that are Animal Kingdom to the other parks and Studios to the other parks. Only way to/from MK from EPCOT and vice versa is the monorail. You can also take a boat from EPCOT to the Studios and back. Hope I didn't confuse you too much.

    - What are some good non-park restaurants (in hotels, downtown disney, boardwalk)? I'm not a millionaire, but enjoying a nice restaurant or two is definitely in the plans.
    Wolfgang Puck's at Downtown Disney is nice. I've heard decent things about House of Blues as well. I'm having 2 meals at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian later this week and have heard good things about them.


    - From what I remember, crowds were light during my visits in February. Has anyone been in early January that can comment?
    January has been busier than usual the last few years. When I went this past January, it was beyond packed at Magic Kingdom.

    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?
    If a certain park has Extra Magic Hours in the morning, they open 1 hour earlier. If it's evening Extra Magic Hours, the park is open 3 hours later. You have to show your resort ID to get a wristband. You can check the schedule for EMH for the parks on WDW's website. It varies from month to month. It used to be EPCOT did their evening EMH on Fridays, but this week, it's ther Magic Kingdom on Friday and EPCOT is doing theirs on Thursday. And it depends on the park and the closing time as to how crowded it can be. Morning EMH are always busy. But I did the evening one at EPCOT in May and after around 10:30, crowds started to lighten up a bit (the park was open until midnight for EMH). This week, I'll be doing the evening EMH at Magic Kingdom. The park closes at 11pm to "Joe Public", so it'll be open until 2am for resort guests. I have a feeling by midnight or 12:30 the crowds will be lighter. But we'll see.

  8. #8

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    - Is the Magical Express service to/from the airport as convenient as it seems? It looks too good to be true.
    Thumbs up on the ME. It gets you to your hotel free and in comfort, and you don't even have to pick up your luggage. Plus it gets you back to the airport free and fast. What's not to like?

    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?
    Your value resort will give you a list of opening hours, with magic hours, upon check in.

    By the way, make sure you venture into the recently refurbished Haunted Mansion! It rocks!

  9. #9

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Hi all - thanks for the great input, you guys rock! It's amazing how much I have missed in a decade...

    Glad to hear some positive comments about the Pop Century, especially because I booked it already. The plan is to not spend that much time at the hotel, save for nights and perhaps an afternoon siesta here and there. We've gotten so spoiled at Disneyland being able to walk back to the hotel for 15 minutes. We don't have kids in tow (pardon the expression!) so we can be a little more ambitious with our pacing.

    I'll be careful about budgeting time appropriately when we're taking a bus, especially when getting there first thing in the morning. As long as the buses are running in advance of the opening, I'm sure we'll be ok. Is there a "first bus" time, or is the schedule not that rigid?

    I came across the EMH schedule on the website, gonna be tricky coordinating it just right, but I've got 5 months to plan!

    Tasman, good call with IoA, but I've actually been there already. I haven't been to WDW in 10 years, but I have been to Orlando. Everest is definitely the top priority, followed by Mission Space. RnR is a highlight, but I was lucky enough to get on The Disney Studios version last month.

    disneyfann121, what did the HM upgrade entail? Am I running the risk of being there in January when it's down to remove the Nightmare Before Christmas treatment? Do they do that in FL? In fact, ride down time is a big concern of mine (I'm glad Primeval Whirl will be back up).

    Oh, and I thought of another question: Has anyone been on the Keys to the Kingdom tour? We've done the Walk in Walt's Footsteps at DL, and as much as we enjoyed it, we were slightly disappointed with the lack of behind the scenes and operations stuff. I've read a few recaps if KttK, and it looks like the ultimate. Any first-hand experience?
    Last edited by sarki7; 08-13-2008 at 09:43 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    Hi all - thanks for the great input, you guys rock! It's amazing how much I have missed in a decade...
    Just don't expect the same attention to cleanliness they used to have back in 1998.

  11. #11

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    Just don't expect the same attention to cleanliness they used to have back in 1998.
    Oh, huh, is that right? Not that I specifically remember how clean it was, but Disney is always top-notch about that stuff. Interesting, and I thought they were doing just fine at DL.

    Oh well, since my last Disney park were the ones in Paris, I'm sure WDW will still seem spotless by comparison!

  12. #12

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    - How is the Pop Century? Is it any better/worse than the other value resorts? I noticed it is separated from the All Star resorts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
    I actually really enjoy the Pop Century resort. Yes, it has a lot of kids running around (but you're at Disney, so what) and yes its a bit gaudy, but its fun. Much much better than All Stars which was miserable for me. I'll stay at Pop again, I don't think I'll ever do an all star again.

    - How reliable/regular is the bus transportation? I am intent on getting to the parks before/as they open, and I wanted to know how realistic it is and how much travel time I need to allow. How long does it take to get from one park to another on the buses?
    As my wife would kill me if I forced her out of bed early enough to be there before they open, I don't know. That said, I've never had much of a problem getting around the resort on the buses for Pop. Its much better than the all stars which share buses for all three resorts. I've never had to wait more than about 20 minutes for a bus.

    - What are some good non-park restaurants (in hotels, downtown disney, boardwalk)? I'm not a millionaire, but enjoying a nice restaurant or two is definitely in the plans.
    Can't help a ton here. I know where we like to eat at Downtown Disney, but not because of it being fantastic food. I've never eaten at any of the hotel resaurants.

    - Is Boardwalk area worth visiting? From what I remember, Downtown Disney was worth a visit, but I don't know how compares.
    Eh, if you've got some free time then maybe. Its pretty, especially at night when all the lights are on, but nothing special. Its a nice romantic walk though.

    - Is the Magical Express service to/from the airport as convenient as it seems? It looks too good to be true.
    Don't know, never used it.

    - From what I remember, crowds were light during my visits in February. Has anyone been in early January that can comment?
    As long as you're not there on a holiday weekend its nice. I haven't been in January in two years, so things may have changed, but the last time I went in mid January I didn't wait more than 15 minutes for about anything. Its definitely the time of year to go.

    - What are the Extra Magic Hours procedures? It says up to three hours later. How will you know whether it's 1, 2, or 3 hours? Also, considering the number of resort guests, is it any quieter than the regular hours? I'm not expecting ERT or anything, but is the difference noticeable?
    Your hotel will give you a list of what the magic hours are for each park on each day when you get there. The resort tv will also tell you if you check it out.

  13. #13

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    disneyfann121, what did the HM upgrade entail? Am I running the risk of being there in January when it's down to remove the Nightmare Before Christmas treatment? Do they do that in FL? In fact, ride down time is a big concern of mine (I'm glad Primeval Whirl will be back up).
    They don't have the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay in Orlando. The recent update was essentially a long overdo refurb, but they did add a nice staircase scene which so far is unique to MK. Check Mouseplanet.com - they usually have fairly accurate closure schedules.
    Down with the Hat


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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    The visual effects in the HM are sharper now, the sound is awesome, and the new scene is a blast. WDW's HM is the best right now, surpassing DL's. Sorry, DLR fanatics. Look at the bright side: DL's Pirates can't be beat.

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    Re: First visit in 10 years! Have a "few" questions

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    I actually really enjoy the Pop Century resort. Yes, it has a lot of kids running around (but you're at Disney, so what) and yes its a bit gaudy, but its fun. Much much better than All Stars which was miserable for me. I'll stay at Pop again, I don't think I'll ever do an all star again.
    Yea, I had heard some warnings about rowdy groups and the like (thanks yelp!), but ear-plugs and OTC sleeping pills (for the 1st night at least) will be packed. I figure if we can get through Fantasyland, we can handle a value resort.

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    As my wife would kill me if I forced her out of bed early enough to be there before they open, I don't know. That said, I've never had much of a problem getting around the resort on the buses for Pop. Its much better than the all stars which share buses for all three resorts. I've never had to wait more than about 20 minutes for a bus.
    Great, that's exactly what I was hoping to hear. I case you haven't noticed, I try to plan out as much as I can before a big trip, and this bus transportation thing was my biggest concern. For what it's worth, my fiancee still humors me about this sort of thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    As long as you're not there on a holiday weekend its nice. I haven't been in January in two years, so things may have changed, but the last time I went in mid January I didn't wait more than 15 minutes for about anything. Its definitely the time of year to go.
    We're there the second weekend after New Years, so the holiday folks will have left, and we leave the Saturday of MLK weekend, so we should be ok there. We managed to get the $82 a night rate at the hotel (all but the last night), so I figured that was a good sign. We've been very lucky with our trips to Disneyland in Janurary, so we're hoping our luck will transfer

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    Your hotel will give you a list of what the magic hours are for each park on each day when you get there. The resort tv will also tell you if you check it out.
    Great, and the website itself seems to have all the information. I don't know if the maintenance schedule is completely up-to-date, (they say there are NO operational "updates" for January, and that seems unlikely) but the park hours and EMH's are likely "set in stone".

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfann121
    WDW's HM is the best right now, surpassing DL's. Sorry, DLR fanatics. Look at the bright side: DL's Pirates can't be beat.
    Ha, well don't let me get in the middle of an east coast/west coast debate, but I'll always be partial to Phantom Manor.

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