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  1. #1

    • Tom Bricker
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    Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Preface:

    Welcome back to another Bricker trip report. This time, we’re telling the tale of our April/May 2011 Coast-to-Coast Walt Disney World and Disneyland trip! In these pages, we will share laughs, spin yarns, suspend disbelief, and perform miracles! Well, maybe not the last item on that list, unless you count convincing people to read this report as a miracle! Join us as we travel from Indianapolis to California to Indianapolis to Florida (and possibly back to Indianapolis!) as we share our experiences: dining in Club 33, Napa Rose, California Grill, and Flying Fish; competing in D23’s Great Disney Scavenger Hunt; conducting research; experiencing D23’s Destination D Celebration of WDW’s 40th; and, of course, taking a ridiculous amount of photos!

    This trip report will be cross-posted from DisneyTouristBlog.com ("DTB"). I will most likely post updates a little earlier over there and they'll be easier to browse without comments in between my posts, so if you want to read ahead or without comments between posts, check out the DTB! If you enjoy the comments of others, read here!

    In any case we hope you enjoy reading this trip report - on with the show!

    The Cast:

    Starring - Tom and Sarah Bricker, lifelong Walt Disney World fans; engaged at the Polynesian in 2007, married in 2010 and honeymooned at BoardWalk thereafter. In addition to their day jobs, Tom works for TouringPlans.com and is a photographer for the Unofficial Guide travel series, while Sarah works on their fledgling DisneyTouristBlog.com and generally keeps Tom in line and on task. They recently discovered Walt’s original park, and are now committed to exploring the other worldwide Disney parks. “2012: Tokyo or Bust!”




    Guest Appearances - The Works and Work-to-be (Henry Work and his parents, and his fiancee, Kate), Nick B., J.L. Knopp, and many others!


    The Trips:


    Dates:
    Disneyland Resort - Late April & Early May, 2011
    Walt Disney World Resort - Early/Mid May, 2011

    Accommodations
    Desert Inn & Suites, Anaheim
    The Luxurious All Star Movies Resort, Walt Disney World

    Disneyland Dining

    Hungry Bear Restaurant - Critter Country
    Napa Rose - Grand Californian Resort
    Celebration Roundup & BBQ - Frontierland
    Club 33 - New Orleans Square
    Rancho del Zocalo - Frontierland
    Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port - Tomorrowland
    Tomorrowland Terrace - Tomorrowland
    Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream - Paradise Pier
    Wine Country Trattoria - Golden State
    The Cove Bar - Paradise Pier

    Walt Disney World Dining
    Sunshine Seasons - The Land Pavilion
    Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe - Tomorrowland
    Sanaa - Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Kidani Village)
    California Grill - Disney’s Contemporary Resort
    Mizner's Lounge - Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
    Tortuga Tavern - Adventureland
    Flying Fish Cafe - Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
    - Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
    Kringla Bakeri og Cafe - Norway
    La Cantina de San Angel - Mexico
    Studios Catering Company - Backlot


    Exciting Links!

    Disney Tourist Blog - Our personal website where we post trip reports, Disney dining reviews, Disney product reviews, special/private event reviews, and a whole host of other random Disney musings!

    Camera Gear for Disney - Want an idea of what photo gear to buy for Disney (along with what Tom uses)? Look no further!

    Tom's Blogging on TouringPlans.com - An index of Tom's weekly blog posts for TouringPlans.com; get a further glimpse into his thoughts regarding all things Disney...if you dare!

    Where to Buy Sarah's Attire - If you've ever wondered where Sarah purchases her dresses and other attire (and apparently, a lot of readers have), this is the link for you!

    Tom's Twitter - Don't believe the incredibly verbose Tom can limit his thoughts to 140 characters? Then check out his Twitter stream!

    Tom's Flickr - Tom posts a Disney photo here at least 5 days per week. Some of them are okay...

    Like DisneyTouristBlog on Facebook! - Just in case you can't get enough of dat "social media" stuff...

    Sarah's Favorite Dachshund Breeder - Sarah says we can't link to this one, because she doesn't want you all stealing the "choice" puppies. Oops, sorry!

  2. #2

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Well, let's get on with the show!

  3. #3

    • I'm from Canada eh!
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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    LOL at the luxurious All Star Movies Resort.

    I've stayed at All Star music and let me tell you, they have some low thread count towels...

    I miss the coffee though...

  4. #4

    • Tom Bricker
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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    ^To be fair, you stayed at Music, not Movies. Movies is basically a Deluxe Resort!

    ...

    Now is the scene in the trip report, were this a movie, where the pages would start to fall off the calendar, and the seasons would change in a series of frames dissolved through the frame. You wouldn’t have many calendar pages fall or much of a season change, though, as we were home for a week before leaving again for Walt Disney World.

    Given that it was only a week, I’ve decided to treat this as one trip report. Well, one trip report in two parts. Sort of like the Godfather (although as the Michael Corlene figure, I won’t be killing any politicians in this installment, nor will I be seeking refuge in the Italy pavilion). I know a week is a long “layover,” but convincing myself this was only one vacation justifies additional future vacations! When we booked our Disneyland trip, we did not plan on taking this trip to Walt Disney World. In fact, we booked Disneyland for the dates we did after making the definite decision not to go to Destination D.

    About 3 days after we booked our flight for Disneyland, we were convinced to go to Destination D, too, and we booked the trip. I was a little weary of taking two trips so close together, especially since we had just moved into our new house and had plenty of things to get done with it. (As I sit here typing this trip report, we still have plenty of things to get done...most of which should probably be prioritized above writing a trip report, but then again, they’re not nearly as fun!)



    The second leg started much like the first, with packing (Yossarian the Cat even helped!), and with us going to work before leaving for the airport midday. We both typically work from 6:45 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., but on this day, we left at 2:45 p.m.. When you’ve got Disney on your brain all day long, that’s not nearly early enough. For our next trip, I’m suggesting we book a flight that departs at 3:30, so we can be out of there even earlier!

    Once we got to the airport, we both changed clothes into our “Disney clothes” and headed to the...AirTran...counter to check-in our luggage. I almost feel ashamed that we betrayed Southwest, but as frugal consumers, we book the cheapest flights, and AirTran had a cheaper flight than Southwest that was also direct. Southwest’s cheapest flight was still more expensive, and had one stop. In any case, our airfare was still going to Southwest, as it had already acquired AirTran, so what’s the difference? I just hope Southwest doesn’t cease offering low fares because it doesn’t have as great of an incentive to do so (with a competitor out of the market).

    After we checked our bag, we saw a beautiful German Shepherd who was with a TSA agent. I wanted to take its photo, but again, I worried about getting in trouble taking photos of “the wrong things” at the airport. Disney Security had told me in October 2009 that me and a few photographer buddies were taking photos in a “suspicious way,” so I figured if taking photos of Spaceship Earth is suspicious, taking photos of airport security dogs really would raise some red flags. Oh well, I thought.



    We went on our way to the food court, where I got, you guessed it, some fine McDonald’s cuisine. Everywhere else, Big Macs were 2 for $4. Obviously, this promotion wasn’t going on at the airport. However, the airport had just added a dollar menu (sometime since December), and a cheeseburger was only $1. By contrast, the Big Mac (my holy grail of lunch and dinner McDonald’s cuisine) was $3.59. I figured 3 cheeseburgers would fill me up, and would only cost $3. Versus 2 Big Macs, which would cost $7.18. (These are the things that I spend the bulk of my time pondering.) Just as I was about to order the cheeseburgers, I exclaimed, “to heck with it, I’m on vacation!!!” and ordered the Big Macs. Okay, I didn’t really say this out loud, but I certainly thought it. As you have probably surmised, I am very passionate about Big Macs. Like much of the rest of the civilized world, Sarah thinks my enjoyment of McDonald’s, and its “fake” products is disgusting. I think her love for disgusting tasting organic foods is disgusting. I suppose we balance one another out well.



    Consuming a Big Mac, if done properly, is a heavenly experience. The bun, like a sesame freckled breast of an angel, resting gently on the ketchup and mustard below, flavors mingling in a seductive pas de deux. Two patties of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savor so delightful. This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread. This is God, speaking to us in food.

    The How I Met Your Mother fans out there probably aren’t impressed by “my” eloquent words above, but I certainly think they apply to the Big Mac just as much as that storied “Best Burger In New York.”



    After my taste buds finished dancing with delight, my mind returned to the German Shepherd I saw earlier. Empowered by the delicious burgers, I decided to ask the (human) security guard if I could take a photo of the (canine) security guard. He obliged, and I snapped a couple of frames before running off. I probably got myself high-scrutiny surveillance by the FBI, CIA, and the rest of the alphabet soup of intelligence agencies thanks to that little move. If you’re out there monitoring me around the clock and reading this, security-dudes, sorry that my life is so oddly boring!



    We then made our way to the AirTran gates. This was like entering bizarro-airport, as the gate was on the exact opposite side of the airport from Southwest’s, the men’s and women’s restrooms are all on the opposite side of one another, and all of the airport staff walks around backwards. Well, maybe not the latter two, but it was odd finally venturing to the other side of the airport.



    Boarding began almost as soon as we arrived over there, and Sarah and I assumed we’d board first since we were near the front of the plane. As we watched 6 other groups board in front of us, I began to second guess our seat selection. I also began thinking about how boarding an airplane “for real” isn’t nearly as cool as boarding Soarin’. For one thing, the experience just isn’t as fun, there’s no awesome score, and you can’t see as much; for another thing no Puddy (you may know him as Patrick Warburton) to guide you through the experience. I wish all of my flights had Soarin’s score and Puddy as a flight attendant. Now that would truly be flying first class!

    Finally, we boarded, and found that, sure enough, we were near the front. In hindsight, it does make sense to board the rear of the plane first, but it did have us a little worried (even though it would ultimately make only like a 5 minute difference in getting off the plane).



    Upon finally getting off the plane, we debated whether to pick up our checked bag (we checked only one bag because of AirTran’s $20 fee per bag) or just let DME try to find it. Due to an aggravating mix-up between our travel agent and DME (I don’t know which party was to blame, and in case it was not our travel agent’s fault, I don’t want to slander their name, but suffice to say, we will be booking our own reservations from here on out barring some extraordinary circumstances) our DME luggage tags were sent to New York instead of Indianapolis.



    We didn’t realize we hadn’t received our DME materials until 3 days before the trip, and by then, it was too late. DME reassured us that their agents would get our bag if we identified it, but we were a little incredulous. Ultimately, we decided to just take the risk, and let DME get the bags. It was more Sarah’s decision than anything, as I had barely anything that I couldn’t replace easily in the bag.





    Even though there was absolutely no way we’d make it to the park by 9 pm for the park’s closing, and probably only a slim chance we’d even make it by 10 pm, a small part of me hoped that record crowds had descended upon the Magic Kingdom, and its hours had been extended until 11 pm. We’ve seen the park hours extended by an hour on the same day on several occasions, so was two hours really out of the question? I hoped not.



    This is what Sarah and I call the "Cross Over." It's actually the no re-entry point in the airport when you head towards baggage claim. When we cross that threshold, it signifies to us that we're actually "in" Florida. (Weird, I know.)



    As soon as we got in line for DME, our bus was ready. We didn’t even stop moving once we got in the line. I don’t think we ever had that short of a wait prior to then for DME. Great sign thus far! Unfortunately, the cosmos didn’t align for us that evening. All Star Movies was the last stop the DME bus made, and we didn’t arrive at the resort until around 10 pm. Worse yet, once there we discovered that the operating hours of the Magic Kingdom hadn’t been extended until 11 pm.



    As we pondered just calling it an early night, it felt like our vacation was one of those commercials you see on tv stating, “It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where you children are?” Except in this case, the commercial was snidely remarking: “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your sense of fun is? It’s your first night of vacation, lame-os!” If there’s one thing by which I won’t be insulted, it’s a fake tv commercial airing inside my head! I sneered at this thought, and prepared to head out of our room and do something. Anything.

    Sarah was torn on what to do. She was really tired and generally requires more sleep than me, but it was the first night of our vacation. She teetered back and forth a few times, before ultimately opting for doing the responsible thing: going to sleep. With her decision made, I headed out, on my way to do some shooting at the monorail resorts.

    I like Disney bus transportation. I like it because it allows me to kick back and relax, without worrying about renting a car, navigating on foreign roadways, or breaking the “Disney bubble” and transporting me back to reality. Those are about the only positive things I can say about the bus system. On the negative side, there are two few buses, they are inefficient, they aren’t exactly the paramount of futuristic or cutting edge transportation methods, have poor and too few routes--anyway, I’m sure you get the idea. I could go on and on.

    Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I had to rely on Disney buses to get me from All Star Movies to the Contemporary, and back home on that particular evening. Upon arriving at the bus stop for Downtown Disney, I noticed there was a Magic Kingdom bus dropping people off. Great, I thought, I’ll just take that bus and catch the resort monorail. Quick and painless! No, unfortunately this bus driver was only dropping people off, as the park had closed. I said that I was going to the monorail, which didn’t matter, he was only doing loops to pick up people from the Magic Kingdom and drop them off. I figured he had no say in the matter and couldn’t pick me up without getting in trouble, so I thanked him and let it go. But I think it’s a stupid policy, nonetheless.



    Ten minutes later, a bus bound for Downtown Disney stopped. Excellent, I thought! However, as it was unloading, a father informed the bus driver that his daughter had a protein spill on the bus (unfortunately those aren’t the words he actually used!). The bus driver told me and the other guests waiting for the bus that we “didn’t want to ride that bus” and that another bus would be there shortly. I thought to myself, “oh, you don’t know what I’ll tolerate to get to my photo-destination earlier!” but kept that to myself. Finally, after about another 10 minutes, another Downtown Disney bus arrived.

    Once we arrived at Downtown Disney, I got in line for the Contemporary/Polynesian Resort bus. You pay $400/night for a room, and you get the luxury of sharing a bus with another resort. Now that’s swanky! Downtown Disney was hoppin’ that night! Well, there were a lot of people leaving, at least. Maybe they arrived, said, “this is it?! I can buy this same crap at any gift shop on property! Where is the nighttime entertainment?!” and left. In any case, it was a mass exodus. I felt sorry for the Cast Members trying to get guests into lines at the cramped bus stops. Luckily, my bus came fairly quickly. Off we were, to...Pleasure Island!

    I guess it has been a while since I have taken a bus to Downtown Disney (every time we had been there since 2007, we had walked from Saratoga Springs Resort), but I had totally forgotten about the separate stop for Pleasure Island. A quick stop there, and we were finally off for the Contemporary. I’ve read a lot about people cheating the system by parking at Downtown Disney to avoid paying for parking at one of the parks, but after this experience, I have to say that those people are truly idiots. (I myself was an idiot for not just taking a taxi, but I didn’t think of that at the time.) It took me an hour and ten minutes from the time I arrived at the All Star bus stop until the time I got off the bus at the Contemporary, and each of my buses was reasonably efficient. I could see that same voyage taking an hour and a half or longer on a bad day. Is an hour and a half of your time on vacation really only worth $12 (or whatever parking costs these days)?





    When I got to the Contemporary, I began taking photos immediately. I figured the monorail would probably not be operating for much longer, and to get to the Grand Floridian and Polynesian before it stopped, I’d need to be quick. I spent about 10 minutes taking photos, then headed up to the monorail. It was closed already.



    At that moment, I paused, and was overcome with the feeling I had made a huge mistake. If the monorail wasn’t running, did that mean buses back to Downtown Disney weren’t running? Would I be stranded there (a taxi hadn’t crossed my mind at this point)?! I thought I had heard that the last bus to Pleasure Island leaves the resorts at 1 am, and the last bus from Pleasure Island to the resorts leaves at 2 am, but now I was doubting that. I walked briskly (something that would become a common theme of this trip) to the concierge desk, and asked about the buses. Sure enough, I was right about the 1 am time. Phew. Then, I realized I had no way to get to the Polynesian besides going back to Pleasure Island and repeating the previous steps! Wait a second, I thought, the bus that dropped me off also made a stop at the Polynesian, and the Contemporary was the first stop on that loop. It thus stood to reason that if I boarded the Downtown Disney bus, it would stop at the Polynesian before the Contemporary. At least I thought that was right, I was so tired at this point that I was basically moving around on auto-pilot.

    When the Downtown Disney bus arrived, I asked the bus driver if he stopped at the Polynesian before returning to Downtown Disney. I’d like to claim this was a rhetorical question, but it wasn’t. When he said, “I will for you!” I responded, “REALLY?! Thanks!” To which he laughed and said that he always stopped at the Polynesian after the Contemporary. I immediately turned and saw a bus half-full of people and realized that should have been a pretty good indicator of this. Like I said, I was really tired.



    I didn’t even really know what I might photograph at the Polynesian. I just really wanted to visit the place on our first night. Even though we’ve never stayed there, and probably won’t be able to afford to do so anytime in the foreseeable future, it is without question my favorite resort.







    From the beautiful tropical plants to the fragrant smell of the lobby to the signage all around the resort that really screams “Vacation Kingdom of the World” the Polynesian seems to have it all. I can only imagine how awesome the rooms must be!





    Tired as I was, walking around that beautiful and lush resort was like being a part of a waking dream.







    I have no idea how long I was even there, but judging by these photos, I documented the entire resort--inside and out--with photos during my short trip. Apparently, I even made it over the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary!





    After wandering around soaking in the ambiance and taking photos, I decided to call it a night. I went to the bus stop and waited...and waited...for the bus to Downtown Disney. It was only 12:30, but I was a little worried that the last bus to Downtown Disney had already come and gone.







    Apparently, I even took a nap!



    Finally, at 12:50, a bus showed up. Phew, I thought, just in time! I figured I’d go back to Pleasure Island briefly, snap some photos of the closed clubs, including the Adventurers Club, which I had never photographed properly, and be on my way. The bus driver foiled those plans, though, when he asked if I’d like to go directly back to a resort. Figuring it was a good time to call it a night, I decided just to head back to All Star Movies, directly.


  5. #5

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Wonderful beginning. It's nice to see that All Stars actually can look good, since that's likely the one I'll be most likely to afford some day.

  6. #6

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Tom- wonderful photos as always. And welcome to WDW Transportation Hell. :P

    Congrats on your trip!
    -Bill

  7. #7

    • Tom Bricker
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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    ^Oh, I've been to WDW transportation hell before--and it's not a fun place. It's usually not too bad for us, but this trip it was awful.

    The next section is up; I'll post it here tomorrow or Friday: Part XI: Coast-to-Coast Disney Trip Report - Disney Tourist Blog

  8. #8

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Nice report on your blog. You're so nicely color-coordinated. Your purple shirt matches your purple Figment hat, and your yellow shorts match Sarah's dress. Now that's dedication to your art!

    ---------- Post added 07-27-2011 at 12:47 PM ----------

    I just actually read the details of your blog, rather than simply scanning the photos. Duh! I should have realized it was all planned. Now I sound like an idiot pointing out the obvious.
    And while we're at it, Peter Pan wears all green, and Pinocchio is a puppet without strings.

  9. #9

    • Tom Bricker
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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    We were up bright and early the next morning, ready for the Scavenger Hunt! Despite me going to bed a couple hours after Sarah, I still beat her up (poor word choice, but you get the idea), and I went out for some sunrise shootin’ at All Star Movies.





    With this stay at All Star Movies, we had now stayed at all of the Value Resorts. I’ve come to determine that the Value Resorts or Deluxe Resorts are the best options for us. We enjoy the finer things, and also short commutes to the parks, and the Deluxe fits this style of touring well. At the same time, we are both kids at heart, and I enjoy what other sneer at as garish design. In that regard, the Values serve us well. The Moderates, while nice, haven’t really found their place in our touring yet. Caribbean Beach Club and Coronado Springs both look beautiful, so maybe someday soon.



    Back to the topic of the Values. I think they get bashed for their design far too frequently. I think we often lose sight of something: that a big part of Walt Disney World is captivating the fancy of children. I'm not suggesting everything should be squarely aimed at kids or that all we need kiddie coasters, but I do think the Value Resorts have their place.





    I know if we would have stayed at them when I was a kid, I likely would have loved exploring them. As an adult, sure, the Polynesian is much more to my liking. But for kids, giant toys and figures of their favorite Disney characters are pretty appealing!





    Heck, even though I’m not a kid, I think the giant Disney characters are pretty cool. Perhaps I’m but a mere simpleton, but I like the Values, and think Disney has done great with the design of them. After seeing new design materials for the Art of Animation Resort, I’m really excited to stay there!





    I had some photos I had to get of the food court, so I decided to grab a refillable mug while I was there. I figured I would be able to use it every morning of our trip, which alone wouldn’t recoup its value, but once you factor in that it’s a nice souvenir, I think it’s worth it. Much to Sarah’s chagrin, we have a cupboard full of cups like these at home. Whereas she would like to use nice kitchenware that matches, I have an eye for the eclectic, and generally use dishes based on utility. Utility in a cup boils down to the picture on it (I know this isn’t strict utility), and how much liquid it can hold. Consequently, I never use our “fancy” cups. Yessir, in these trip reports, you learn far more about us than you ever would have expected (and probably far more than you ever would have wanted).





    I grabbed a cup of Coke, sat down, and took in my surroundings. I know it’s only a Disney food court, but at this hour of the morning (it was around 7:45), it still wasn’t busy in there, and it was a relaxing place to sit. After I finished that cup of Coke, I refilled, unpacked the infrared camera from my bag, and set out to capture some more photos (yes, I realize there are no infrared photos here, I haven't had a chance to convert them yet!).











    Before I did this, I figured I better check the time. Crap, I forgot my phone. I frequently do this, and it understandably isn’t on the top of Sarah’s “favorite things” list, so I decided I better make haste back to the room. I grabbed a handful more shots, then headed back.






    When I returned back, I found out that our friend who worked at Boma, and Scavenger Hunt teammate, Nick, would be at our resort to pick us up soon. I scrambled to get ready, carefully clothing myself along the way (as you’ll see why shortly), and we were out the door by 8:45.

    You may remember Henry Work from the Disneyland installment. Well, Sarah and I aren’t the only ones who vacation “liberally.” Henry had arrived at Walt Disney World a few days before us (and would be going to Disneyland right after his lengthy Walt Disney World trip). After reading this, you might be thinking, “all this Henry dude does is screw around in theme parks--I want that job.” While Henry had a fun month of May, most of the time he works long hours as a web developer. I’m still not quite sure what, exactly, that means, but he spends a lot of time doing it. (Honestly, it might just be code for riding the Haunted Mansion repeatedly, who knows!)



    After talking to Henry about his preparation efforts for the Scavenger Hunt the weekend before our trip, we began making half-hearted efforts to prepare ourselves. I began looking at random “details” photos on Flickr and reading posts on the Disney Shawn blog. We arrived at EPCOT early that morning so that we could spend some time strategizing and maybe even riding attractions to memorize portions. We saw Henry and his team doing the same. Unfortunately, their preparation efforts would be much more fruitful than ours.



    The “preparation” started with Sarah going to the Land to get FastPasses in case we had to ride Soarin’ for the Hunt. I highly doubted there would be Soarin’ questions because of the wait, but who knows. I told her I’d stay in the Innoventions Plaza, taking photos of the character topiaries. Some time passed, so I decided to give Sarah a call. I have no clue what she was doing prior to this, but she said she would meet me at Test Track. So I headed over there, snapping some more photos. More time passed. More time than it would take to walk from the Land to Test Track, by a long shot.







    Finally, I called. It turned out my teammates had gone on Living with the Land without me! The first attraction of our trip, and Sarah does it without me. The writing was on the wall, folks. If anything says “drifting apart,” it is riding Walt Disney World attractions without your spouse. (Nevermind the fact that I often ride more intense attractions without Sarah; this is somehow totally different!)



    I made my way over to the Land, and waited for the rest of the team outside of Living with the Land. From there, we headed to the Hunt check-in area, as it was around 10 am. Much to our surprise, there was a huge line out there! I guess we didn’t know what quite to expect, but we certainly did not expect this many participants. After waiting about 30 minutes in line, we had our Scavenger Hunt book in hand, and were ready to begin.





    In spite of our plan to develop a strategy, we didn’t end up with much of a plan. We began identifying the likely locations for some of the questions, grouping them together, and heading to the appropriate pavilions.



    The Hunt at EPCOT was 4 hours long, and because of the fast-paced nature, I didn’t have any time to stop and take photos. It was probably the first 4 consecutive hours in a Disney park since 2006 during which I hadn’t taken a photo! (The photos you see among the text describing the Hunt were all taken earlier in the morning--I just held them off so there would be something to break up the text a bit.)



    There were three categories of questions: one point questions that could be readily ascertained from details in the parks, 5 point questions that required answering one question, with subsequent questions dependent on the previous answers, and 10 point questions along the lines of the 5 point questions, except longer and more difficult.



    We decided to start with some of the bigger point questions, and our very first question was a fairly involved question on the pavement just outside of Innoventions on the way towards The Land, where you can find the different inventions and the years each thing was invented. It involved letter counting and assembling a word based on a letter from each invention, then determining in which year the “assembled” word was invented. All of this took place right in the scorching sun, and definitely set the tone for the rest of the Hunt.



    We started with the Future World pavilions, first visiting the Seas, then the Land, then Imagination. Our strategy up front was to try to avoid riding attractions. However, when we saw around 6 one point questions for Living with the Land, we decided to ride it. Even though it had a 10 minute wait. We spent this 10 minutes in line organizing our plans, but given the length of the line, plus the length of the attraction, we definitely wasted too much time.



    One type of question that we encountered early on just outside of the Land (on the bronze Symbiosis plaque) involved counting words on a plaque, and extracting letters for those words, then unscrambling the letters to form a word related to the original question. For example, take the following sentence: “This type of question sucked a lot!” Starting with the word, “This” identify the following letters of the following words: 1st letter of the 2nd word. (T) 4th letter of the 4th word. (S) 2nd letter of the 4th word. (U) 4th letter of the 5th word. (K) 8th letter of the 4th word. (N) From that, you have TSUKN. Unscramble those words to reveal what Tom thought of these questions: STUNK. Pretty clear what I thought of these questions?





    It’s mostly a personal thing, really. While it may seem easy enough here, try doing this on a plaque with over one hundred words. You will lose your place, and all of the sudden, find yourself counting from 1 to 114 all over again. Then, you’ll discover that someone along the way you skipped a line, so your letters don’t unscramble into anything! After struggling for far too long with the Symbiosis plaque, we determined that the call of the question required that the answer be “Captain EO” even if we didn’t have an “O” in our scrambled letter list. About that time, our team very wisely determined that it was not in the best interests of anyone’s mental well being if I continued to try answering this type of question.

    After Future World, it was off to the World Showcase. We made our way around the Showcase, starting in Canada. I am probably going to sound like a broken record, especially once we get to Animal Kingdom, but there really is so much in Walt Disney World that we’ve never experienced. In the World Showcase, there are countless little displays and details we’ve glossed over, and it would likely take a week to fully appreciate everything in the World Showcase. It’s amazing what we miss as we bounce from attraction to attraction. Sarah and I aren’t even the type, at least we don’t think so, who are pre-disposed to missing these details. We endeavor to experience all attractions at least once, regardless of the public consensus concerning their quality, and I stop to take so many photos of the Disney Details that it seems like I’d see more details than most. Yet we still miss plenty!

    Once we answered all that we could answer in World Showcase, we headed back to Future World to hit Test Track, Mission: Space, Innoventions, and Spaceship Earth. We had to fly through these attractions, as we were extremely low on time, and even answered the Spaceship Earth questions without riding the attraction. It turned out that we ended up guessing several of these questions correctly! Well, perhaps guessing is the wrong word, as we invariably ride Spaceship Earth 5 or so times per trip, so it’s not so unreasonable to think some aspects of it are ingrained into our memories.

    Time went by during the Hunt about as quickly as I’ve described the Hunt here. Time always passes quickly at WDW, but it seemed to go especially quickly here. With these Spaceship Earth questions answered, our 4 hours were up, and break time had begun. Lunch would be, of course, at Sunshine Seasons!



    One nice thing about the Hunt was that the start times were not strict. D23 gave about 4 hours of flex time the first day, and about 2 hours the second day. So you could start the Hunt the first day 2 hours after the start time, then start the next park 2 hours after finishing the first, and still finish before the “latest any book may be returned by” deadline. Obviously, you only had the allotted time (3 hours for all parks besides EPCOT, which was 4 hours) to finish your book once you started the Hunt, though. I mention this now because we availed ourselves of this little break by having lunch at Sunshine Seasons.



    Perhaps it was because I was so hungry from moving around so briskly and not eating until 2:30 pm, perhaps it was because the place is just that good, but I had one of the best meals there. The chicken and mashed potatoes. Wow, words cannot describe the explosion of taste in that dish. It was beyond words. No wonder people call Sunshine Seasons the “Napa Rose of Counter Service.” (No one besides me, as best I know, actually calls it this, but I’m starting the trend!)

    The one fatal flaw I made in my excitement to eat was that I neglected to get a dessert. How do you go to Sunshine Seasons and not get a dessert!? Actually, I made two “flaws,” the second being that I accidentally sat at a table apart from the rest of our team. I swear I sat down first and they just decided to ditch me again, but I’m really not sure who sat down first. I was the one who ended up moving, though.



    Anyway, this grave error of not having a dessert could not stand uncorrected, so Sarah and I agreed to split a Strawberry Shortcake. When I got up to the dessert case, I knew we couldn’t split a dessert. We were on vacation, eating in one of our favorite restaurants, and relaxing in our favorite pavilion. So, I decided that getting a Tiramisu in addition to the Strawberry Shortcake was the only course of action.

    The Strawberry Shortcake was delicious, as always. The Tiramisu tasted interesting at first, and I thought it was going to be a dud. It was almost tart in flavor, but ultimately tasted very good. Sarah concurred, and it’s definitely on the “thumbs up” list for further sampling in the future.



    We couldn’t stay too long to soak in the Sunshine (Seasons), as the Magic Kingdom was the next park on our agenda for the Hunt! D23 had assigned us to EPCOT to begin, but after that, we were free to choose. We opted to go with what we predicted would be the easiest park for us here, as we already were pretty tired from the extra-long EPCOT day. That left Animal Kingdom and the Studios for Day 2, and clearly AK would be our morning park given how hot it gets there later in the day, and because we didn’t want to be tired for what we knew would be a grueling marathon there.

    Before Magic Kingdom, there was one little matter of business we had to address: photos in front of Journey into Imagination. Earlier, I mentioned getting dressed carefully that morning, and now you’re about to see why. Brace yourself, as, quite frankly, this is the epitome of awesome.


    This is just WEIRD, right?!





    Figment themed clothing. That’s right. Those who read the comments to our December trip report on WDWMagic may recall that I was looking to acquire one of three Figment hats. My good friend and fellow photographer Matt Pasant, of all people, sent me an email shortly after I posted that informing me that he had one of the hats in question. A few days later the hat was in my hands, which meant I had to complete the rest of the outfit. Some, less committed or details oriented Figment fans might stop with the Figment hat, thinking the outfit begins and ends with that. After all, it is the focal point! However, I learned long ago from my exploration of Walt Disney World that it’s the details that make all of the difference.



    So I set out with the goal of assembling the finest Figment outfit known to man, that perfectly captured the essence of Figment, without letting the hat make me look like a crazy fanboy (likely the case if I sported my circa 1982 Figment with rainbow point t-shirt) or allowing the hat to look like a tourist gift shop afterthought (likely the case if I wore the hat with any old clothes). It was a tough line to walk, but I knew just what to do. Figment’s main colors are, purple, of course, along with yellow and some orange. If I could incorporate these colors into my outfit, it would be brilliant! When preparing the outfit, I thought it would make the most sense for the polo to be purple and the shorts to be yellow, since those two colors matched. Further, I knew Ralph Lauren made “choose your own horse color” shirts, so I could get a purple polo with an orange logo to complete the outfit. Brilliant! I purchased the yellow shirts first, but unfortunately, I delayed too long before purchasing the shirt, and they were temporarily sold out online in my size when it came time to order the polo in question. Rats! I thus settled for a purple polo with a yellow logo.



    I, on the one hand, was incredibly pleased with my ensemble and excited to wear it to the parks. Sarah, on the other hand, thought my outfit looked outlandish, to put it mildly. Ultimately, she conceded that the incredibly number of compliments I received probably proved me right, while I conceded that for every compliment, there were probably 5 people staring at me in disbelief, wondering what that idiot in the dinosaur hat is doing.



    My only regret is the day I chose to adorn myself in the wonderful attire. (I’m really going out of my way to make this sound much cooler than it actually is, in case you can’t tell. Sorry that I’m subjecting you to 4 paragraphs of discussion concerning my Figment outfit. Mark this as the moment my trip reports jumped the shark, if you want!) We barely had the chance to take any photos, and I really liked it. I am considering wearing a modified version of the outfit in October, but we’ll see. Oh, and if anyone out there has either of the other two (or are there more?!) Figment hats and is willing to sell them, PLEASE! email me at [email protected]!

  10. #10

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Love the hat! You are a brave and very self assured man! Love the trip report(s) and as always your photos are beautiful! Especially loved the resort photos!
    BGood! It's not just my motto its my name!

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Your clothes match the bathroom!

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Fantastic! I love it so far!


    Web-hosting: 3dxhosting.com | Blog: anthonyhays.com | Pictures: Flickr | Facebook: Cakvala

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    Tom- wonderful photos as always. And welcome to WDW Transportation Hell. :P

    Congrats on your trip!
    I've got to tell you, I've been to WDW several times over the years, and have not really experienced "Hell" in regards to the transportation - at least not in my opinion. So, I'm genuinely asking, what is so bad about their system? No, it's not perfect, but I'm not so sure why so many people critisize it. I'd appreciate it if someone could explain. Thanks.

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Pure brilliance can be used in several instances for this trip report: Outfit, captions, pictures. The list goes on and on.

    I can't wait to read the rest!
    It's a Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah...Tip for Today!










  15. #15

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    Re: Coast-to-Coast Trip Report 2011: Walt Disney World Leg (D23 Destination D)

    Quote Originally Posted by mickdaddy View Post
    Love the hat! You are a brave and very self assured man! Love the trip report(s) and as always your photos are beautiful! Especially loved the resort photos!
    Ha, thanks. Sarah wasn't so "assured" for me, as she thought I was going to get tons of weird looks. Turned out, I mostly received compliments. If vikings have taught us anything, it's that you don't mess with a man wearing a hat with horns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Koutesu View Post
    Your clothes match the bathroom!
    Yeah; I'm not 100% sure, but I think that was taken in the old Journey into Imagination pavilion restroom (the one hardly anyone knows is there), so it would make sense that it uses that color scheme.

    Quote Originally Posted by cakvalasc View Post
    Fantastic! I love it so far!
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by sbk1234 View Post
    I've got to tell you, I've been to WDW several times over the years, and have not really experienced "Hell" in regards to the transportation - at least not in my opinion. So, I'm genuinely asking, what is so bad about their system? No, it's not perfect, but I'm not so sure why so many people critisize it. I'd appreciate it if someone could explain. Thanks.
    You've been lucky. We mostly have had positive experiences, but all it takes is waiting once for over an hour at a bus stop for a bus to the Magic Kingdom while 6 buses for Animal Kingdom come and go. That will sour you really quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by yoyoflamingo View Post
    Pure brilliance can be used in several instances for this trip report: Outfit, captions, pictures. The list goes on and on.

    I can't wait to read the rest!
    Haha, thanks! The next installment is up here: Part XII: Coast-to-Coast Disney Trip Report - Disney Tourist Blog

    I'll post it here tomorrow or Wednesday!

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