Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 1 - February 25

Our first day of the trip started NICE and early since both of us had 6am flights. I slept like a BABY the night before. Mom didn’t sleep at all due to a major storm pending. She was terrified she wouldn’t get out. It was raining and cold when I left, so we did have a slight delay for de-icing, but nothing major.

Mom greeted me at my gate in Orlando - easy to do since we both flew Southwest this time and our gates / times were near each other. We grabbed coffee and food for me at Starbucks since I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day. Then it was off to the Magical Express!

We had just one stop before our destination of Port Orleans French Quarter. It was Old Key West. As the oldest Vacation Club Owners I know (mom bought in 1992) Old Key West holds a special place in my heart. It was fun to pull up and see it even if only for a few minutes. The stop was quick and we were off to French Quarter.

The last time we stayed at a moderate resort was probably around 1989 or 1990 when we were at WDW on the trip mom had won off a local radio station. We stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort. I remember little about the resort. After that we stayed Yacht Club concierge and since then its been DVC all the way. So this was the first experience in a moderate that I really remembered.

My initial thoughts were that the resort was very well themed and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Our room wasn’t ready - I expected that being like 10am. That said, with DVC we are used to being able to get our room even when we check in early - I mean that is part of the advantage of marking your arrival time during the online check in process right? Well, our room was not available - and we were not offered an alternative such as a different room. We had asked originally to be near transportation and ended up assigned to building 3 which was a lovely location. Nice and close to the lobby and bus transportation. A bit of a walk towards the boat transportation - however we decided the noise from the boats (and people getting on and off of them) might be annoying at night so we liked our location. We were given our room keys, pointed towards bell services to store our luggage, and told we’d get a text message when our room was ready.

Once our items were stowed at bell services we headed off for Downtown Disney. The boat took a bit longer to get to DTD then I was expecting, but it was a nice ride. It was fun to see Saratoga Springs from that vantage point. Mom added on points at Saratoga a few years back - but we haven’t stayed yet, and I haven’t been other than to the bus stop. Man is that place BIG!

We got off the ship at DTD and headed directly for the Earl of Sandwich. Somehow, May 2010 was our first time eating here...and boy were we missing out. Since the day this trip was planned I was looking forward to going back (I’m told there’s one opening up in New York City and I’ll have to make some additional trips into the city when that happens I think.... ). On our first trip we each got a sandwich and split them. I got the Caprese sandwich. We couldn’t quite remember what mom had, but we remembered liking hers more. We decided to try the Earl’s Club. And I wanted the Caprese again (I love me some tomato and mozzarella!). We also got some potato salad which I remembered enjoying. Upon first bite of my Caprese I remembered why we liked moms sandwich better the last time. While I love tomato and mozz - I am NOT a fan of balsamic - and this sandwich is loaded with it. MUST remember to ask for no balsamic next time. The Earls Club was tasty - but not as tasty as last year’s sandwich. I’m thinking last year we had the BLT.

After lunch we did some shopping. I controlled myself at Tren-D. Just purchased a pink tshirt like my green burnout one I bought there last year. This was MUCH less than what I spent there last May! We worked our way towards West End so I could go to D Street for Vinylmation. (For those not familiar with vinylmation check here ). The Nerds series had just been released and I was so excited to see them! I ended up buying 6 vinylmation total that day - four 40th anniversary vinyls (the 4 parks ) and two nerds (Mickey and Pluto ). This seemed steep $74.50, but I had $75 in a visa gift card that I was awarded from work so in the end that seemed like a great way to spend that unexpected cash!

After D Street I got the text that our room was ready so we decided to head back to the resort. One of the reasons we’d chosen French Quarter rather than Riverside for our pre-cruise stay was because we’d read that the bus stops at French Quarter single stop before going to all the stops at Riverside. For some reason this was NOT the case on the bus from Downtown Disney. So we got a bus tour of Riverside, and then ended up getting off at the main Riverside stop to explore Riverside and walk back to French Quarter. On the way I got word from Darlene (zeusywoo for my disney friends!) that she and Keith were done at Animal Kingdom and headed back to Beach Club. We had talked about meeting up for dinner so we made plans to meet up that night at Boardwalk to try out Big River Grille.

View at Riverside

Mom enjoying the view

We stopped at Bell Services to pick up our carryon items, and were told that our checked bags had arrived, but not been checked in yet so we couldn’t have them just yet. We headed up to our room. I must say, the room at FQ was bigger than I was expecting. The room itself was bigger then some DVC studio rooms when you exclude the bathroom and the DVC kitchenette. The decor was quaint. We liked the dual pedestal sinks in the bath area. The curtain dividing the bathroom area from the rest of the room - and the lack of a real closet were strange. The room with the tub and shower was SMALL and very dark. In fact overall we felt the room felt dark. But the beds seemed comfy. We were surprised to still have a giant television in the room. Amazing how much space that thing takes up. While we were relaxing for a few our bags showed up. Mom did a little organizing and then we headed off towards Boardwalk to meet Darlene.

French Quarter Building

Mickey Towel

Our plan had been to catch a bus to Downtown Disney and transfer to a Boardwalk Bus. Well....we sat..and sat...and sat...and sat...and every bus came by 2-3 times except a downtown disney bus. The third time a Hollywood Studios bus showed up I decided we should get on it..I mean...we’d been waiting over 45 minutes..and I knew we could grab a boat or walk to Boardwalk from the Studios. Mom insisted that a DTD bus probably showed up as soon as we boarded the DHS bus..but I didn’t care...I was happy to be moving!

We arrived at Boardwalk and Big River Grille to meet Darlene. SOOOOOOOOOOOO great to meet her after all the tweeting/facebook/emails/phone calls over the past 15 months. While we waited for our table we shopped a bit at Boardwalk. Our pager rang quickly and we were treated to a nice table outside. For those of you who haven’t eaten at Big River - request an outside table! Not only do you get to enjoy the ambiance of the Boardwalk and view of the Yacht and Beach Clubs, but it is much more spacious and more quiet than the strange indoor seating at this restaurant. After perusing the menu all three of us decided to try the Big Brew Cheeseburger with kettle chips. YUMMY!!!!!! I would definitely recommend this restaurant for those in the area.

After dinner we decided to walk a bit. Darlene wanted to drop of some food for Keith, who had stayed at the Beach Club resting due to a headache. We headed into the Beach Club store to do some window shopping, and after a few minutes someone asked our group “Darlene is that you”. Turns out I’m not the only one who recognizes Darlene’s voice. It was Vicki from Mousefan - who was all of our travel agent. We stood and chatted with Vicki for a LONG time. Then we continued our walk/shopping over at the yacht club. Then we decided we were exhausted so mom and I headed to the bus stop to work our way back to French Quarter. This time we decided instead of bus to bus transfers we’d take the bus to DTD and then walk to the boat launch and take the boat over to French Quarter. Not sure if this was faster than bus transfers. But we enjoyed the trip!

1 comment:

T-Town T said...

Just found your blog, look forward to reading more! We stayed at French Quarter last year and enjoyed it. The weird curtain thing was definitely strange though...