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House of the Mouse

November 5, 2008

I was way too distracted by the election yesterday to do a trip report, but today is a new day. Still, I’m not up for a multi-part extravaganza like I wrote for last year’s trip (that starts here), so I’ll just hit the main points here and direct you to the photo set for the other stuff I was inspired to note as I posted the pictures.

I got a little wound up when we were planning this trip, as we waited until annual passholder room discounts were announced for our target travel times, which meant we didn’t make any reservations until about eight weeks before we left. Contrary to the impression one might get at the fan forum where I lurk sometimes, this worked out fine. We got a discounted room at our second choice hotel (so close to our first choice that they share a swimming pool), spots in all the tours we wanted, and tables at all the restaurants we wanted at the times we wanted except one, which is notoriously hard to get into because it’s small and popular so I wasn’t surprised (and I wasn’t too disappointed, as the menu was the least interesting to me of all the places on our list).

We stayed at the Yacht Club, which is one of the Epcot area resorts. We wanted to be over there this trip because that’s where the Food & Wine Festival was going on and where our two early morning tours were. While it was nice to be able to walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, it was no fun getting to and from the Magic Kingdom and the bus to Downtown Disney took what felt like forever. I don’t think we’ll ever stay at a non-monorail resort for a whole week again unless we also rent a car. One thing the Yacht Club had that I haven’t seen in a hotel room before is an iHome; I plugged my nano into it and we listened to a couple podcasts over the course of the week.

We did two Segway tours, one at Epcot on regular issue machines and one at Fort Wilderness on off road models. Both were fun. The Epcot one had more opportunities to play on the Segways, weaving in between columns and around light poles and such, while the Fort Wilderness one had more animals to see. I wish they offered a next level Segway tour with machines not in turtle mode—more than once I found myself pushing up against the speed governor. We also did a walking tour of Future World which started off rather slow, telling us stuff we already knew and showing us stuff we’d already seen, but it got a lot more interesting after the first hour or so. We got to go to some backstage and semi-backstage areas that were pretty cool, and the guide pointed out a few things onstage that I’d never noticed. That’s one of the things that keeps me coming back to Disney parks—there is such attention to detail that there’s always something new to see even if there haven’t been any new attractions added. I so appreciate that level of effort. For instance, they could have put plain matching tables in all the seating areas of the food court in the Land pavilion, but instead they have four different designs, one for each season, each in an area with benches and carpets that pick up the season’s colors.

We also made a lot of dining reservations this trip, more than we’ve had on any other trip. It used to be that one could get tables at most restaurants without reservations, but now so many people are using the Disney Dining Plan that lots of places book up weeks in advance. We booked one meal for each day of our trip, figuring we’d do counter service or snack carts for the rest. Having tried it this way, I don’t think we’ll do that many again. It felt like we spent too much of our vacation getting from the parks to the restaurants and it was sometimes annoying to have to consider where our dining reservations were when deciding which park to go to on a given day, especially when the hours schedule changed around from what had been published at the time we were booking stuff. Next time, I think we’ll just plan a couple meals at our favorite places and take our chances for the rest. If we rent a car, we might even go off property to eat. (I know! Radical!)

All in all, it was a good trip. We had some excellent food and great wines and saw lots of fireworks and several parades. Because of the tours and the dining, we didn’t do as many of the attractions as we usually do but we did get on all our favorites, some more than once, so that was fine. We even spent about an hour in the hotel pool, which is an hour more than we’ve managed on our last four or five trips combined. The main pool area for the Yacht Club is so popular that they’ve had to post cast members at each entrance to check that people are guests of the hotel and issue wristbands so the place doesn’t fill up with interlopers. We’re already thinking about our next trip to the World, assuming the global economic meltdown leaves us with disposable income at that point.

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