Monday, August 30, 2010

August Trip Report: Day 1

Alas, James still has the Segway picture, so I'll begin my trip report instead of doing the Segway post.  If you don't want to read about my trip report, your regularly scheduled blog posts will be returning in, well, approximately seven posts.

I awoke on the morning of August 17 possibly more excited than I've ever been in my life.  I was going to Disney World!  We soon (but not soon enough!) picked up James from his house, went to the airport (see picture on the left), and got on our plane!  Everything went according to schedule, and we arrived in Orlando around 3:30 pm.  We went to wait on line for Disney's Magical Express, and that whole part of the airport was absolutely empty.  I swear we were the only people waiting on line for all of Disney's Magical Express.  It was totally odd, but we soon got on a bus and left for our resort!  Our first stop was Coronado Springs, followed by All Star Sports, and then our resort:  All Star Music!  I love All Star Music!

Online check-in went extremely well (see my previous post), and we had our room assignment in no time.  Aside from the fact that our room was in the middle of nowhere (the second to last room in the back of the last building), we were pleased, and we decided it was time to eat dinner at Beaches and Cream!  We took the Hollywood Studios bus, and got on a Friendship boat there.  That took us to Beach Club, and after a little asking around, we made our way to Beaches and Cream.  We even got a table right away!

You can see the Beaches and Cream menu to the right.  We had never been before, and we both loved it!  We both got cheeseburgers, and we shared an ice cream soda for dessert - so good!  Look for a Beaches and Cream review coming soon!  After Beaches and Cream, James and I explored the Epcot resorts for a while.  James got lots of good pictures of the different resorts while the sun was setting.

As it got later, we headed over to Hollywood Studios, as we did have park admission for that first partial day.  We walked instead of taking a Friendship boat back, and it was really a nice walk.  We arrived and had time for one ride:  the Great Movie Ride of course!  Oddly enough, a girl I knew in elementary school was our guide on the ride.  Who'd have known?  After that, we headed over to see Fantasmic (for the first time!).  After waiting a ridiculous amount of time in a crowded, sweaty line - yuck! - we ended up getting great seats!  James and I had both never seen it, and we both loved it!  The first thing James said after it ended was, "that was amazing."  A+ in our books!

And finally, it was time to head back to the room and get to sleep for our Magic Kingdom day to come!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Online Check-In, Part 2: Arrival


I'm back!  On Tuesday, I arrived home (unfortunately) from an amazing week at Walt Disney World!  Which means I have lots of information for lots of blog posts!  I had initially wanted my first post back to be about our Around the World at Epcot Segway tour, but James currently has those photos.  Thus, I decided to do a follow up post to the one I wrote on August 8 about online check-in.

I got a lot of mixed feedback about online check-in, but I must say, it worked perfectly.  The line was longer than the regular check-in line, but only because the regular check-in line has no one on it.  We were first in line for online check-in, and within two minutes, we were helped.  And, fabulously, everything went swimmingly.  The cast member who helped us simply asked for my ID and gave us a folder with a map of where our room was, our room keys/tickets, little pamphlets on all kinds of stuff, etc.  Did we have a car with us?  No.  Did we have any questions about our dining plan?  No.  Then we were all set.  And off to our room we went!

One thing people don't like about online check-in is that your keys are made when you arrive, so you can't request a certain area.  This is one thing that may be faulty about it, since James and I were put in the second to last room in the farthest building.  That said, I don't think we would have said anything about it even if we did regular check-in, though we are considering a "preferred room" for our next trip in order to be closer to the main building and transportation.  Overall, however, online check-in was a breeze, and I'm very glad we did it.  It made the check-in process very fast, and we were able to enjoy the magic even sooner!

So again I ask, have you ever done online check-in?  What did you think?  Do you prefer to do it in person?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!
 

Monday, August 16, 2010

T-Minus One Day, A Temporary Hiatus

Yes, it's finally here!  If you are reading this on Monday, I will be leaving for Walt Disney World TOMORROW!  I am beyond excited, but unfortunately, this means I won't be blogging for the next week.  But you can expect TONS of new material (and pictures!) for a blog post when I get back!  I'll see you all soon!

To stay updated on my trip and to get a chance to win a cool prize from Walt Disney World, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/discollegeblog!
 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Getting Ready to Go

Contrary to what you may believe, there is much more to getting ready for a trip than just packing (although that may be one of the most important parts!).  Personally, before I take a trip, I make a list on my phone of the different things I need to do ahead of time.  From beauty (getting my eyebrows done and possibly a haircut?) to logistics (printing boarding passes), the list is rather extensive.  And it all needs to be done before the trip.

Some of the most important things to do before a trip are the logistical ones.  As I said before, printing your boarding passes in advance (especially if you're taking Southwest) is very important.  Also, I made sure to copy all of our confirmation and reservation numbers on a piece of paper, even though I have them all in my phone.  Paper can't die if it runs out of battery.  I also made sure to get singles for tipping in various circumstances.  These are things I wanted to make sure I wouldn't forget.

Next on my list are the more fun things.  I have to remember to print my touring plans, so I can spend less time in lines and more time on rides.  I'm also possibly getting a manicure and pedicure (though I may save that money for Disney).  I decorated envelopes for Mousekeeping (housekeeping at the Disney parks!) to put their tips in every day.  Hopefully they'll enjoy them!

Finally, there are the essential things on my list, like packing and charging my electronics.  I would be lost without my phone and camera charged, and I'll also remember to charge my iPod and Kindle for the plane rides.  As for packing, first I had to remember to buy everything I needed.  I bought an extra memory card for my camera and an extra phone battery for our upcoming trip.  Then, in a few days (likely the night before the trip, knowing me), I will get everything all packed up.  Clothes, bathing suits, sunscreen, and, of course, my Minnie ears!  The ears are going into my carry-on!  Of course, anything you forget to pack can be bought on Disney property, but it's nice (and much cheaper!) to bring them from home if you can remember. 

So what do you do before a trip?  What do you always have to remember to pack?  Do you make a list?  Let me know how you get ready to go in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!
 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Disney College Blog Giveaway Update!

Thanks to my many amazing tweeps, I have officially reached 400 followers on Twitter.  Which means I will officially be giving away a prize to a lucky winner!  What will that prize be?  You still have time to decide!  Pins and Vinylmation were VERY close in the last poll, so I've made a new poll with less options to try to determine a clear cut winner.  Another idea that was suggested to me was a mystery bag of items from the $10 and under store, so I've added that to the poll.  I'm excited to see what you guys want as a potential prize!

As for the giveaway itself, you'll have to stay tuned to my Twitter account while I'm on my trip to find out how to win it!  There will be multiple chances throughout my week at Walt Disney World to enter the giveaway.  These opportunities will be hashtagged with #dcbgiveaway, so you know what they are.  Perhaps it will be trivia, where in the World am I, or maybe I'll even Ustream and ask a verbal question!  Or maybe all three!  Or maybe different ideas completely!  You'll find out on Twitter!

Now don't forget to vote in this new poll.  These are the votes that really count!


            
                                                                                                                                        
What would you like to see given away?
        Pins
        Vinylmation
        Mystery Bag
        Other (comment or tweet me!)
       
= see results =
   
   

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Online Check-In, Part 1: Ten Days In Advance

On Saturday, I checked into Disney's All Star Music Resort... online.  You see, you can check into your Walt Disney World resort up to ten days in advance of your arrival.  This is supposed to streamline the actual, physical check-in process.  Saturday was my first time doing online check-in, but from what I understand, instead of arriving and having to get everything settled, you do that online instead.  Then, when you arrive, everything is all set up for you, and you simply take your folder and room keys and get on your merry way.

Overall, I thought the online check-in process was very nice.  Granted, I haven't gotten to the other end of the process, which is why this post is a part one.  However, the actual check-in process was simple and easy to understand... if you know about online check-in and where to find it, which I'm not sure your average guest would.  Once you navigate to the page on which you begin your online check-in, you enter your confirmation number, last name, the name of the resort at which you're staying, and your arrival date.  Then it takes you to a different page where you do the actual online check-in.  You enter a credit card number, cell phone number at which you can be reached on your trip, basic room requests, etc.  Essentially, you give them all the information that you would give them in person once you arrived at your resort.  And that's it!  Then you're done!  To be honest, I was expecting it to be much more, well, headache-y than it was.  It was simple, and it means my trip is right around the corner!

Have you ever done online check-in?  What did you think of it?  Do you prefer to do it in person?  Let me know in a comment,  a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!  And look out for the second part of this post when I return from my trip!

Want to win something cool straight from Walt Disney World?  If I reach 400 Twitter followers in the next eight days, I'll be giving something away!  Only nine followers to go!

This post is part of the eighth DisMarks.com Disney Blog Carnival.  Click the link to see more great Disney articles!
 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Counter Service and Expanding Horizons

If you look to the left, you will see a picture of the item that I had for lunch almost every day of my last trip to Walt Disney World.  You see, I am a picky eater, but I am trying my hardest to change that.  I really want to be the kind of person who sees an exotic menu item and orders it without fear, but I'm not... yet.  However, I'm hoping that counter service meals can help me change that.

Counter service meals are good for two reasons.  One: you can get a burger if you're feeling particularly unambitious.  Two: there are plenty of other options for the more adventurous eater, especially at World Showcase in Epcot.  World Showcase is one of the main places I intend to eat counter service meals that are out of my comfort zone.  Since the meals are generally less expensive than table service, I wouldn't mind trying something new as much.  If I didn't like it, I could always get a burger.  One of the places I'm especially looking forward to trying is the Tangierine Cafe in the Morocco pavilion.  I've never had food like that, and I'm really looking forward to trying it.

Looking for other places to get away from that burger?  If you're still looking for meat, try the Flame Tree Barbecue in the Animal Kingdom.  I've never eaten here, and unfortunately, it will be closed for renovation during my upcoming trip.  But I've heard awesome things about the ribs and the view of Expedition Everest.  Another non-burger counter service venue that gets rave reviews is Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney.  Earl of Sandwich is one that I do hope to try in August, and the gourmet sandwiches are farrrr away from burgers.  On the other hand, if you do want a burger, they can be found almost anywhere.  And do you want the best burger?  It is generally agreed that the two best burgers can be found at Pecos Bills in the Magic Kingdom (a personal favorite, love the toppings bar!) and Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club.

So what do you think?  What are your favorite out-of-the-ordinary counter service meals?  Favorite non-burgers?  Favorite burgers?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!  And remember, if I get 25 more Twitter followers in the next 11 days, I will be giving away a prize from Walt Disney World!
 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

To Via Napoli or Not To Via Napoli...

Image from Disneyfoodblog.com

I'm not going to lie, all of the Via Napoli hype has really gotten me thinking about trying to get a table on our upcoming trip.  Since the restaurant will be walk-up only, I have to admit the thought is rather appealing.  Hopefully not too many people know it's open yet, so the wait shouldn't be long, right?  The problem, however, is the price.  No Disney table service restaurants are cheap, but $16 for an individual pizza?  Yikes!  I am told that they take table service credits, and we do have free dining, but I already have all of our credits scheduled for other, ADR-ed dinners.  And neither of those are inexpensive either...

Overall, I'm trying to decide if popping into Via Napoli is worth it.  I do like Italian food, and while my boyfriend isn't a huge fan, he loves his pizza.  I thought it could be somewhat inexpensive if we shared one of those 20-inch pies.  $27 split amongst the two of us isn't terrible, I suppose.  From what I've heard, the pizza is very good, so it might be worth a shot.  But I'm not sure if I can get past the fact that I can get a meal and a drink at any pizzeria around here for less than five bucks.  I mean pizza's supposed to be cheap!  Sigh...

So what do you think?  Should my boyfriend and I become one of the exclusive few who got into Via Napoli in its first month open (assuming there isn't too long of a wait)?  Or should we just skip it and have enough pizza for a week for that $27 when we get home?  Let me know what you think in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!  And remember, if I get 44 more Twitter followers in the next 13 days, I'll give away something straight from Walt Disney World!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Main Street Electrical Parade Continues...

Image from DisneyWorld.com

Some of the biggest news of the week is that the Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP) will be staying at the Magic Kingdom indefinitely.  This is big news for me, since my trip is in a few weeks, and I had been somewhat expecting to see SpectroMagic (only somewhat expecting because I can't say that Disney's MSEP choice went completely unpredicted).  Having never seen the Main Street Electrical Parade, and being a huge fan of Spectro, I am honestly torn about Disney's decision here.

For one, I completely understand why Disney is keeping the MSEP.  I mean, it has been taken extremely well, and people are going crazy for it.  That said, I don't have the nostalgia for the parade because I've never seen it.  Sure, it's a fun parade, but it just doesn't have the same spark without the nostalgia.

On the other hand, I have loved SpectroMagic since the moment I saw it.  It was the first nighttime parade I've ever seen in Walt Disney World, and I think it's fantastic.  I mean, the Spectro song is my ringtone for gosh sake.  When I first heard about MSEP, I was actually glad that it was supposed to be ending before our trip started.  This continued to be true the first time I watched a video of the MSEP, but I've watched it a bit since then, and it's grown on me.  (That said, the electronic voices creep me out.) 

Overall, I'm simply not sure that the MSEP will have the same replayability that Spectro has for me.  To me, Spectro is more magical, and while the MSEP has funner music, perhaps, I'm not sure if I'd return to the Magic Kingdom to see the parade a second time.  Then again, I've never seen the MSEP a first time, so I guess I shouldn't speak too soon.  I'll definitely revisit this topic in a post once I return from my trip.

What do you think about the Main Street Electrical Parade and Disney's decision to keep it at the Magic Kindom indefinitely?  What do you think about SpectroMagic being (at least temporarily) replaced?  Do you think that actually seeing the parade will change my mind?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!  And remember, now that it's August, there are only 15 days for me to get 37 more Twitter followers.  If I do, I'll be giving away something straight from Walt Disney World!