Becky L. Arnold -- October 1998 -- Walt Disney World (PBR, ASMR) / Disney Cruise Trip
October 3, 1998 - October 12, 1998
My 10 yr. old daughter and I just returned from our WDW vacation. We spent 6 days in WDW and 3 days aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship.
List of restaurants: Chef Mickies, Crystal Palace, Rose and Crown, Norway, Food Court at ASM, Rain Forest, Sci Fi, 50's Prime Time, and Captn Jacks Oyster. We had resesses for the Hoop De Do but cancelled.
We stayed the first 2 nites at the All Star Music Resort (Jazz Inn) and 4 nights at the Polynesian Oahu Bldg.). Our room at the ASM was small but quite adequate for the 2 of us and we were certainly comfortable. The rooms were suprisingly quiet as we never heard our neighbors opening or closing their doors or walking down the outside aisles. The ASM is definitly a great value for the money. Another added plus is the direct bus service to and from the ASM and to and from the parks. We also enjoyed the food court for breakfast and late evening snacks. The Polynesian...ahh.... Sheer heaven. We both fell in love with this resort. The rooms are very large as is the bathroom area. We had sliding glass doors that opened onto a patio with a table and chairs. There are 2 pools, one with a slide and waterfalls and a beach area with a couple of hammocks. We relaxed late in the evenings in the hammocks and almost fell asleep there on night! The resort is filled with palm trees and there was a constant breeze that was cooling, relaxing and calming. We could definitely escape the madness of the parks at this resort. The Poly is expensive but we enjoyed it so much we would definitely stay there again. I think it is worth it to stay there even if you can only stay for 2 nights and switch to another resort afterwards.
Overview of WDW Portion of the Trip
We arrived at the Orlando airport at 11:18am. Our Florida Towncar (Ben) was waiting. The luggage came promptly and we were whisked off to the ASM. Check in was quick (no lines) and our room was ready! We took a quick peek at the room, grabbed a bus and were in the MK by 12:55 pm.!! The first day was spent in the MK and the evening in Pleasure Island. My daughter and I both enjoyed a virgin drink and then the show at the Adventurer's Club. The MK was crowded but surprisinly all the attractions were walk ons except for Splash Mountain (60 mins. and this remained throughout our trip), Peter Pan's Flight and Snow White. We covered quite a bit of ground that day. The next day (Sun) was spent at Epcot. We arrived at approx. 10am. Everythig was a walk on (no lines at all). We went to Mexico and Norway (lunched at Norway) and then totally completed Future World.
The remaining days were much different, however. The heat and the crowds were relentless. We have always gone to WDW in October and we never encounted such crowds before. The Unofficial Guide and Birnbaum's books were wrong on several points. Oct. is NOT an off season anymore. WDW is now offering several programs during Oct. and Nov. in order to fill the parks. And fill the parks they did! The parks were running at almost capacity and still the parks closed at 7pm.
The second point I found to be a problem with the books concerns EE mornings. We tried one for the MK. We arrived at the MK gates before 7:30am. and we could not get near the turn styles. There was thousands of people waiting to get in for E.E. morning. We immediately turned around and grabbed a bus for MGM. We were one of the first in line and into the park. Behind us followed a sea of people. We immediately did TOT (25 min. wait first thing upon opening!). We did however walk right into the Little Mermaid. That was the last attraction we were able to see in MGM. There were waits ranging 30-60 mins. for everything. Showtimes for some of the attractions were so close in time it was impossible to catch them.
After the EE fiasco we resorted back to our old style of touring. We slept in and went to the parks later. This worked out much better. The parks seemed less crowded by mid afternoon and we were much more rested.
We watched IllumiNations in Epcot at the Rose and Crown in the UK. This was truly a magical evening. I made our priority seating arrangements 2 weeks before leaving NY. The seating was for 7:20pm. When I called I stated that we wished to have an outside table in order to view IllumiNations. It is important you tell this to the cast member or else you will be told on arrival that you will have to leave before the show so that those people having requested a table for IllumiNations can be seated. We went to Epcot early in order to see the American Adventure. Unfortunately, the show didn't begin until 7pm and let out at 7:30. Not to fear however, a cast member telephoned the Rose and Crown on our behalf and everything was arranged. After the American Adventure we went directly to the R&C. We were seated at 8pm. We were given a fabulous table right in the center. Our entree was served at the conclusion of the show. By the time we finished only my daughter and I and the family next to us were left in the restaurant. We sat and chatted for quite sometime and then they went to their car and we headed for the monorail. Epcot was deserted and it felt a bit errie. When we arrived at the monorail we saw 6 other people. We caught the last train out of the park. This was a perfect evening and a perfect way to avoid the crowds leaving Epcot at the end of the night.
As I stated earlier, Oct. and Nov. are no longer off season. In fact, this can be a treacherous time of year to visit Disney given the crowds and the fact that the parks closed early. The heat and the crowds were relentless. I would suggest spending a bit more money on a comfortable resort to escape to in the afternoon and at the end of the day. While at the Poly, I sat down with some cast members to plan our next WDW vacation. I wanted to return next December during the first week. All the guide books state that this is the least crowded time of year until Christmas. WRONG!!!!! The staff informed me that the ENTIRE month of December was THE busiest time of year with only Christmas and News Years rising higher. I was informed that January and February still have the lowest attendance but several attractions are closed during those months.
Advice ( for what it is worth)
Small children do not seem to like WDW. There were children crying in every attraction. Remember, almost all of the attractions are inside, in the dark and quite loud. A very hearty 4 1/2 - 5 yrs. old who has been exposed to a variety of experiences should be able to enjoy a lot of the attractions at WDW. However, children 7 and up seemed to be the happiest. Additionally, parents (trust me on this one) you don't want to struggle with strollers. It is hot and humid in Orlando. If at all possible, leave the smaller children with grandparents and take the other children to WDW.
WOW. I couldn't complain about this cruise even if I tried very hard to find a complaint. The ship is magnificant. Hmmmm it is a beautiful ship. The DCL picked us up at the Poly in very nice, comfortable buses. We watched a short movie on the way to the terminal. We walked into the terminal and immediately on to the ship! No waiting, no lines. As you enter the ship there are plenty of cast members to show you how to locate your room. We went directly to our room and looked around and walked out on to the balcony for a view. Our luggage came almost immediately behind us. Topsiders was open for a buffet. After a quck bite we went back to our room to unpack. There are 2 dining times and 3 dining rooms. You rotate to a different dining room each night. Each dining room is special. I found the food to be fantastic in each dining room. don't forget to bring your video camera into Animators Palate - there is quite a show. In the evenings there is a different live show shown at 2 times in the Walt Disney Theatre. There is also a seperate movie theatre that shows movies in the afternoons and evenings. There was soooo much to do and experence on this ship we did not have enough time to experience everything.
Our 3 days aboard the Magic was far too brief but very magical. Just as we were becoming comfortable with cruising it was over!
I talked to many, many fellow cruisers on board and questioned them about their opinions. Some said there ws not enough to do and they were bored. Some said (myself included) there was too much to do and not enough time to experience all the Magic had to offer. Some said the food was not gourmet and some said it was too gourmet. It just goes to show you - all the pixie dust in the world just can't please everybody...
Becky L. Arnold