It's going to be a long one folks because I took a ton of pictures. Plus, this report will include dining reviews, a MiceChat Meet, Micky's Not So Scary Halloween Party and more! It was a fabulous trip and I wish I could live at WDW!
Even though my WDW trip ended a week ago, we were in Indiana until Monday and then I have been trying to catch up with work, celebrating my birthday and just generally missing WDW so it has taken me a bit to get around to posting this report. Sorry!
We arrive in Orlando, after a red eye flight, at about 10:30 am. We didn't sleep very well on the plane as this picture of my fiance looking entirely wiped out on the airport monorail will attest.
My first glimpse of Orlando out the airport monorail window.
None of the preparations for this trip made it real to me that I was actually going to DisneyWorld for the very first time in my 32 (almost 33 years) until I walked up to the Disney Magical Express counter. (Odd, I know, but that's what finally made it real.)
Sadly, we ended up on a MEARS bus and not a DME bus and the driver was completely out of it. He ran the Goodbye video instead of the Welcome video and then proceeded to give all sorts of misinformation, like that the refillable mugs were $8.99 and you could get refills anywhere. I was too tired otherwise I would have shouted "Uh, try $11.99 and only refillable at your resort!" But all was fine once we stepped into our resort.
Check in was quick and friendly, although our room was not quite ready so we headed over to The Mara (the counter service in the resort) for an early lunch hoping that our room would be ready after we ate. We were on the dining plan so on this meal we split our first counter service credit. We also bought one of those $11.99 refillable mugs! The best part of the meal was that they had Boma desserts available. We had the double bacon cheeseburger with fries, a large soda and chocolate mousse crunch and zebra domes for dessert. More than enough food, even with splitting the meal. The burger was good, if nothing special and the desserts were to die for, of course.
As luck would have it, our room WAS ready after we finished lunch! We originally had a standard room but they upgraded us slightly to a pool view, not the upgrade to savannah view as I had hoped, but I wasn't complaining. The detailing of the lodge was fabulous and was included even on our door.
When you walked out of our room, this was the view of the lobby.
We had a king non-smoking room with a couch, table and chairs, a mini-fridge, coffee maker and double sinks in the bathroom. We loved every aspect of our room. It was very tastefully themed and decorated, comfortable, clean and spacious. We stayed at an Omni in Indianapolis and that four-star hotel vastly paled in comparison to The Animal Kingdom Lodge. My only complaint about the room or the hotel in general was that the light in the shower/toliet area was a bit dim. Otherwise, this place was worth every penny.
After showers and a brief rest we pushed ourselves to head over to Disney MGM Studios. We were pretty exhausted but we knew that if we went to sleep in the middle of the day we would never get on Florida time. On our way to get fastpasses for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster we passed the 3 o'clock parade.
Then we headed over to Tower of Terror with the hopes that dropping 13 stories would wake us up.
Little did we know that we were in for a little more than we bargained for. It may have been the highlight of the whole trip! As we were walking up to the Standby entrance a Cast Member in full Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhop uniform, holding a suitcase asked us "Checking in?" We decided to play along and we said that we were. To our surprise he then said "We have been waiting for you, follow me." He then walked us through the fastpass line telling the other Cast Members along the way; "These are the VIPs we have been waiting for." "Mums the word.", etc. He was awesome and stayed in character the whole time so we got into it as well, my fiance asked if our usual 13th floor Penthouse was ready and I asked him how long he had worked at the hotel to which he replied "Since 1927"! As we approched loading he asked us if we wanted him to accompany us to our room and of course, I jumped at the chance to a get picture with him on the ride. (We are in the bottom right corner.)
After we got off the ride he told us to wait at unload as he had something for us. Seconds after he walked away another Cast Member approached us and told us to follow him and he took us backstage. Sadly, I did not have my camera ready so I didn't get shots, plus I wouldn't have wanted to abuse their hospitality. It wasn't anything all that fabulous looking, it was just exciting being back there. He then took us through another door and put us RIGHT BACK ON THE RIDE!! Ahhh! I was already shaking like a leaf from the first ride and then I had to go again. It was awesome. When we got off the second time our original Cast Member was waiting for us and gave us these really cool certificates saying that we were VIP guests of the Hollywood Tower Hotel and a bunch of fastpasses for the Coaster and TOT.
This is us with Cast Member Chris, he was fabulous and I absolutely have to send off a commendation letter as soon as possible.
What a way to start a trip, eh? We were completey giddy for hours afterwards and I couldn't stop smiling.
The rest of the day we toured the Studios and went on all of the rides. We ended up being able to do everything except a couple of shows in just six hours. This is the outside of the Great Movie Ride which looks like Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The streets of San Francisco. It's funny, we kept feeling odd about flying to Florida just to return to California.
We had our first table service ressies at Hollywood and Vine that evening because we were able to book the Fantasmic! dinner package with them. The food was decent, my favorite thing on the buffet was the tomato, mozerella salad, but I have a bit of a fixation on that particular food item anyway. The service was a bit lacking and the ambiance wasn't all that great. I am not sure that I would go out of my way to eat here again, but it was fine overall.
Fantasmic! was fun, it was nice being able to have seats, but I could see people's criticisms with it versus Disneyland's version. It was a lovely end to our first, fabulous day and we then stumbled back to the hotel and crashed for a well deserved night's rest.
Next up: Day 2 and Epcot