Our Disney World trip to celebrate my birthday started yesterday. We flew Southwest to Orlando (to heck with American and their bag fees and exorbitant charges to make changes to reservations) and arrived a bit ahead of schedule. A good omen perhaps?
We made our way down to the Magical Express area only to find the longest line I’ve ever seen for ME. We were a bit concerned but the line moved pretty fast, so while it took longer than we had anticipated, it really wasn’t long until we were on the bus.
We arrived at All Star Sports (Not our preferred level of resort, but we wanted to minimize the costs for the trip… we miss you Wilderness Lodge!) and put the new online check-in to the test. The idea is you provide all your info ahead of time and check-in by showing photo ID and picking up your pre-printed materials. Honestly I’m not sure we saved all that much time. Perhaps if the lines had been longer for regular check-in, the advantages may have been more apparent. Would definitely do it again however.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were in Surf’s Up building 1. Nice and close to the pool and main building but with a room facing away from the noise around the pool. We settled in, changed into warm-weather clothes, and headed for the bus to Downtown Disney. We were easing into things with a park-free day. After arriving at Downtown Disney we spent the rest of the day shopping and eating.
Lunch was at Earl of Sandwich (love their bread), and dinner was at Cooke’s of Dublin (fish and chips!). We’re on the Disney Dining Plan this trip. Used to be a better deal when the tip and appetizer were included for table service meals, but you can’t beat the free dining promotion. Our only complaint was the inclusion of a dessert item with every quick meal. It is OK if the venue has a fruit option, but not ever one does.
We also did some shopping though not as much as in previous years. Nothing was all that compelling. We were disappointed that we couldn’t find a Chipbacca or Mashter Yoda Star Wars Potato Heads. Will check Hollywood Studios and keep our fingers crossed. We had our real dessert at Ghirardelli. As usual there were way too many people there for their seating area. It doesn’t help when people hold a table waiting for the rest of their party to arrive. Wish the staff would police the area and reserve seating for people who have ordered.
We also took the boat up to Port Orleans Riverside (aka Dixie Landings). We honeymooned at Dixie Landings and it remains a favorite of ours. We checked out the Christmas tree in the lobby then boarded the boat back to Downtown Disney. During the trip we had a good look at the reconstructed treehouse villas. Very nice. Curious how many points these go for.