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  1. #1

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    Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Howdy all,

    The wife and I are heading to Florida the second week of June for a well needed 5 night vacation, and to say it has been along time coming would be an understatment.

    I visited MK and Epcot 22 years ago as a senior in high school and have counted the years until I could make it back. My wife has never been to the state of Florida so this is a complete first for her. We grew up in Southern California but have resided in Idaho for the past decade so our trips to the California park ended on our Honeymoon. I grew up at Disneyland. I've got boxes and boxes of slides from our family visits during the 60's 70's and 80's. Someday I'll get them on disc...

    The problem we are having is booking a room. There are just so many dang options! Right now we have reserved a room at one of the Condo/Hotel places just outside of Epcot, but we wonder if we should just go ahead and stay at one of the Disney Hotels. Thoughts? Advice?

    Also, if any of you kind folks would give us an idea on the "Don't miss" parts of MK, Epcot, or the Animal Kingdom, we would sure appreciate it.

    We truly cannot wait to get there. 22 years feels like a lifetime, and for my wife, it has been a lifetime. :-)

    Kindest Regards,

    -D

  2. #2

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Wow, where to start. First off, welcome back! There is so many things for you to catch up on.

    Hotels : I say if your going to do Disney, stay on Disney property, while that is my personal preference there are many offsite hotels that are more affordable and nice. We tend to be a family who don't spend much time in the rooms, so again it all goes back to preference.

    What to do? Well let me break out my list of must sees at each park for you.

    Magic Kingdom:

    Carousel of Progress
    Space Mountain
    Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Great break in the afternoon/evening)
    Peter Pan
    Dumbo - but just as the fireworks start going off.
    Haunted Mansion
    Pirates of the Caribbean
    Jungle Cruise
    Big Thunder Mountain
    Splash Mountain
    Tom Sawyer Island - I believe this is underated and a nice break from the crowds.
    Country Bear Jamboree - Very cute and a classic!

    Food:

    Crystal Palace
    Liberty Tree Tavern
    Cinderella's Royal Table (If you can get in)

    Shows:

    Wishes

    Epcot:

    Spaceship Earth (See it before it goes down for a major rehab!)
    Test Track
    Soarin
    Living With the Land
    The Seas with Nemo and Friends
    Turtle Talk
    Gran Fiesta Tour
    Malestrom
    The Candy Lady in Japan (she makes animals with candy!)

    Food:

    Oye, where to start..

    Japan
    Le Celier
    Mexico
    Germany
    China
    Italy

    Shows:

    Illunimations
    Off Kilter (Canadian band)

    MGM Studios:

    Tower of Terror
    Rockin Roller Coaster
    Voyage of the Little Mermaid
    The Animators Tour complete with animation lesson (you learn to draw a Disney character!)
    Star Tours
    Great Movie Ride
    Muppets 3D
    One Man's Dream
    Journey Into Narnia (you can skip this if you dont have time but its cute)

    Food:

    ABC Commisary (Counter)
    Prime Time Cafe
    Sci Fi Dine In
    Mama Rosa's

    Shows:

    Fantasmic
    Parade - I really like this parade

    Animal Kingdom:

    Everest (duh)
    Prime Eval Whirl
    Dinosaur
    Kilimanjaro Safari
    It's Tough To be a Bug
    Kali River Rapids (you get wet)

    Food:

    The BBQ place -the name just left me. Soooo good.

    There really aren't many places to eat at AK, no sit down places either. I would recommend after getting the BBQ that you head over to the hidden seating areas, gives you a great view of Everest.

    Shows:

    Nemo: The Musical
    Lion King
    Last edited by SummerInFL; 04-18-2007 at 06:34 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Regarding hotels - The Marriott Village in Lake Buena Vista has three hotels; a Fairfield Inn, a Courtyard by Marriott and a SpringHill Suites. The location is very nice, although in the evening it can take awhile to make a right turn onto SR 535 as you leave your hotel.

    Also in Lake Buena Vista there is a DoubleTree (not the Downtown Disney one, but directly off of SR 535). I had a friend visit me from out of town and I booked a room for him there. It used to be a Days Inn, but they remodeled and the decor is unique and fun. It is surprisingly comfortable. *Updated 4/21/07* The DoubleTree I am referring to has changed owners. It is now called the "OrlandoVista" Hotel.

    My preference lies with Marriott, but I at least wanted to mention the DoubleTree (OrlandoVista).

    What is the name of the place you have already booked?

    Oh, and if price is not an option, and there is availability, then definitely stay at a Disney hotel. I would list my favorite, but all that would do is start a debate. You just can't go wrong with a Disney hotel.

    One last thing, if you scanned your old slides and posted them you would be a hero - honest. It is always great fun looking at old Disneyland pics.
    Last edited by PhotoMatt; 04-21-2007 at 05:14 PM. Reason: DoubleTree hotel sale

  4. #4

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Wow! Some great advice from both of you! Thanks!

    Right now we are booked for stay at the Runaway Beach Hotel Resort. We can cancel anytime before 72 hours prior to check in and not get charged a nights stay.

    I've been looking at the DW site and notice that you can book as "room only" This is VERY interesting as we are only doing 3 days at the parks and one day at Kennedy. I really like the look of the Carribean hotel, but it would run about 4 hundred more over the 5 nights. Of course we would get free parking, early entry, etc...

    Darn decisions! :-)

    Any more advice, feel free to throw it my way!

  5. #5

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Free Parking is one of my favorite perks of staying on property if you plan to drive to the parks every day. With Parking being $10 a day, it can really add up.

    Also, Extra Magic Hours have both high and low points, Early Hours are usually great because most people usually aren't willing to go to the parks an hour early and most of the main E-Ticket attractions are open, but the downside is that park will usually be the busiest park all day. The Evening Hours aren't my favorite thing because it usually doesn't save you that much time when it comes to waiting in line. With most people coming from all the other parks, it can get pretty crowded, but then most parks do a second showing of thing on those nights, sych as two showing of Fantasmic at Disney-MGM.

    The Point being, there are many perks to staying on property and could potentially save you time and money in the long run. Also, a lot of the best restaurants on property are at the various resorts. I can never get enough of Ohana's at the Polynesian Resort.


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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    I found a Runaway Beach Hotel at 3000 Bonfire Beach Dr. Is that the one you are staying at? I looked at the pictures and it really reminds me of an apartment complex in the exact same area called Calypso Cay. With all of the recent apartment to condo conversions this could be the same property.

    This is a very good location, especially if you found an attractive price. I live about 5 minutes away off of International Drive, in one of those apartment to condo conversions I mentioned before. I think you will be surrounded by more locals and residents than tourists. So, if this is not a problem for you then I don't see a need to change.

    Travel time to most areas on Disney property will be at or near 15 minutes. Don't think that is far though, Walt Disney World is just big so it takes a few minutes to drive from one park to the next.

  7. #7

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    PhotoMatt,

    That is exactly where it is at! And the price was extremely good. About 400 cheaper than the Carribean resort.

    Thanks to you, it sounds more promising as we have no idea what is around that area.

    Thanks an absolute ton! I think we just may stay put there.

  8. #8

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    I would suggest to stay at one of the resorts inside of Disney since you're coming from afar. You wouldnt have to drive to any of the parks and you could save some money with gas and with the parking. Best part, you wouldn't have to worry about getting lost or anything of the sort. I can't suggest a resort for you because I'm not sure what your budget is. I also haven't stayed at a resort for a very long time. Either way, you're going to get the same benefits at either hotels for the parks (ie. extra magical hours, early admission...). For the parks, make sure to purchase a multi-day tickets because you will save a lot of money here. Also, consider getting to the parks early to take advantage of the short waits on the attractions. This will open room for time to see any shows or parades. Noticing that you haven't been to disney in 22 years, you're going to find a lot of new attractions, especially over at Epcot. Animal Kingdom and MGM Studios will be new to you as well. I've always suggested to check out http://www.allears.net This website is great because it helps out to plan your days and it gives you reviews on attractions, hotels and places to eat. You're definitely going to have a great time here at WDW. The parks have definitely changed over the years. The website mentioned above has park maps and lots of tips. Word of advice, take advantage of FastPass at the Parks. Here are things not to miss:

    MAGIC KINGDOM:
    Rides: Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion (if open, it's closing this summer for refurb), Peter Pan's Flight, Carousel of Progress
    Shows and Parades: Mickey's Phillarmagic, SpectroMagic, and Wishes fireworks

    EPCOT
    Rides: Soarin', Spaceship Earth (if open, closing later this summer for refurb), Test Track, Mission Space.
    Shows: Reflections of China, Impressions de France, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (DON'T MISS THIS FIREWORKS SHOW, IT'S THE BEST SHOW OF IT'S KIND)
    Make sure to visit all the countries of World Showcase at Epcot! I recommend to check out the French Bakery! Make reservations if you plan to dine at one of the countries at World Showcase. I hear people recommend a lot the Italian restaurant.

    Disney-MGM Studios:
    Rides: TOWER OF TERROR, Rock'n Rollercoaster, Star Tours, Great Movie Ride
    Shows: FANTASMIC!, Lights, Motor, Actions!, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular

    ANIMAL KINGDOM:
    Rides: EXPEDITION EVEREST, DINOSAUR
    Shows: It's Tough to be a Bug, Finding Nemo the Musical

    Visit Downtown Disney also if you get the chance.

    I hope this helps.
    _________________
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    "Since the dawn of recorded time, communication has revolutionized our lives and changed our world. We now have the ability and the responsability to build new bridges of acceptance and cooperation between us. To create a better world for ourselves and our children as we continue our amazing journey aboard Spaceship Earth." - Jeremy Irons (Spaceship Earth)

  9. #9

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Quote Originally Posted by EPCOT1982 View Post
    I've always suggested to check out http://www.allears.net This website is great because it helps out to plan your days and it gives you reviews on attractions, hotels and places to eat.
    I can't agree more with this. Since it's been awhile since you have been, a lot has changed in the dining protocol. If it matters to you at all about eating at a table service restaurant, it is essential you call 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463) to make your ADRs (Advance Dining ressies ) now to reserve a time. No Credit card is needed to make the ressies, (except for a few character meals.) All the decent restaurants fill up way in advance and it's nearly impossible to just walk in to a restaurant and expect to get a seat.

    The dining section on http://www.allears.net includes all the menus of WDW restaurants in the parks and hotel resorts to help you decide where you want to go. The dining truly adds so much to the whole Disney experience.

    Good luck and have fun planning your trip. You will both love it!!
    ~~Jodi~~
    Next WDW trip coming up 10-5-10 to 10-15-10, Wilderness Lodge Villas.




  10. #10

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dfanucci View Post
    Howdy all,

    The wife and I are heading to Florida the second week of June for a well needed 5 night vacation, and to say it has been along time coming would be an understatment.

    I visited MK and Epcot 22 years ago as a senior in high school and have counted the years until I could make it back. My wife has never been to the state of Florida so this is a complete first for her. We grew up in Southern California but have resided in Idaho for the past decade so our trips to the California park ended on our Honeymoon. I grew up at Disneyland. I've got boxes and boxes of slides from our family visits during the 60's 70's and 80's. Someday I'll get them on disc...

    The problem we are having is booking a room. There are just so many dang options! Right now we have reserved a room at one of the Condo/Hotel places just outside of Epcot, but we wonder if we should just go ahead and stay at one of the Disney Hotels. Thoughts? Advice?

    Also, if any of you kind folks would give us an idea on the "Don't miss" parts of MK, Epcot, or the Animal Kingdom, we would sure appreciate it.

    We truly cannot wait to get there. 22 years feels like a lifetime, and for my wife, it has been a lifetime. :-)

    Kindest Regards,

    -D
    Congrats dude... You will have a blast... WDW has changed so much over the years.

    1. Your hotel issue... If you are not renting a car, then you definitely need to stay on property somewhere... If you can, see about a room at the Pop Century resort, or maybe the Caribbean Beach resort...

    2. Dont miss things at the parks... I would say to just ride everything... Since you havent been to WDW in over 20 years, and your wife has never been to FL, just ride everything. It will all be new for her, and a nice trip down memory lane for you.

    3. FOOD. Make sure you call now and make reservations to Ohana's. Its the best food in all of disney (my opinion). Also the Luau is great as well.


    Have a good time, and we're all looking foward to your trip report with lots of pics

  11. #11

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Howdy all,

    Well, the wife and I decided to change our plans a little. We figured that if we are going to be on vacation, we needed to have a vacation. This meant that we did not want to worry about heading to walmart to stock up on food, having to do our own housekeeping etc.

    So... we cancelled our stay at the runaway beach hotel, and booked a room at the Port Orleans Resort Riverside. We simply cannot wait to get there now as this will be a looooong awaited vacation for us. Thanks to all you regulars here, we have been taking copius notes on where to go and what to see. We simply cannot say thanks enough to you folks.

    The deal maker was seeing some really great shots posted here by some who have stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside, and reading over at allears about the grounds. The wife and I love to take walks after a busy day to take in the sights and sounds of the environment, and we thought that there would just not be too much to see at a hotel away from Disney.

    Sigh.... 25 days and counting....

  12. #12

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    Good choice to switch, Df! Cool!
    Now - please tell us you HAVE booked your ADRs for at least a couple of the nicer restaurants....

  13. #13

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    Re: Bound for Florida. The first time in 22 years!

    POR is a very nice resort hotel. Good choice! Its the best of the moderates imo with beautiful grounds surrounding the buildings. Most of the must sees at the parks that I would have mentioned have already been covered, so I won't duplicate it. Just to add to what SummerinFl said about dining at AK, the best imo is the counter service BBQ place, which is called Flame Tree BBQ. Also regarding dining, some of the best places to eat are at the resort hotels. They can be a bit tricky to get to if you are using Disney transportation, but one of the best, as Parisi said, is Ohana's at the Polynesian, which is located on the monorail loop from the MK or TTC, so it is relatively easy to get to. You can book dining reservations now for your trip, and Ohana's is always difficult to get into, so if you decide you want to try it, book a time now. Other good resort hotel restaurants are Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge and for finer dining Narcossee's at the Grand Floridian and California Grill atop the Contemporary are very good. Just be sure to plan ahead, make sure to build in breaks in your day to return to your hotel for a nap, swim in the pool or something else to relax such as go for a shopping spree at Downtown Disney during the hot afternoons, and overall just have fun! If you are interested in the water parks, definetely try them out as well. Typhoon is best for atmosphere, the wave pool and an overall more relaxing get away, while Blizzard has a very neat theme with some awesome rides and is home to more thrilling slides. However, with five days, the four main parks is probably enough before it becomes too overwhelming and busy of a vacation. Overall, I think you're in for a real treat having been gone from WDW for so long.

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