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WDW - Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. – My August 2011 Trip Report

WDW - Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. – An August 2011 Trip Report

Welcome to my trip report! First, about the title. Reading the WDW boards lately one would think that Disney World was coming apart at the seams; Overrun by vicious gangs of Brazilian tour groups, Pop Warner boys and cheerleaders. Filled with broken down, outdated rides run by snarly cast members. The resorts infested by bedbugs, nasty housekeepers, and moldy shower curtains. The Restaurants serving up Dogfood burgers and steaks served with the leather hides still attached. The fireworks shows reduced to open fire pits and a few boxes of sparklers.

To be totally honest and sarcasm aside (kinda), I was really getting concerned about this trip. I had gone to great lengths and compromise ( see my Pre-trip report) to make this trip a reality. Now I was worried that once my family would see first hand the crumbling vestige that was once our favorite place on earth; this would seal this trip’s fate as our last one to the World. Well, I’m happy to say, with photos as proof – the rumors of Walt Disney World’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

First Day and intro to our family;

Our countdown was over. The paper chain in Toni’s room that started at day 178 was now down to day zero. It was 4 in the morning on August 6th and I woke up Toni and we tore up that last chain and started to get ready for our trip. By 4:30, Toni and her brother Sterg, were ready and waiting.

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I have a good friend that happens to own a limo business, so we hired him to drive us to Philadelphia International. The limo came at 5:00am. This is my wife Val and my oldest child, Alexandra, getting spoiled in the limo.

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Sterg and I on the other seat…

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While Toni caught a few z’s.

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Everything was going fine. We were making great time on the Turnpike until we were detoured off of it an exit too soon. Unfortunately, this was only the first of our several delays that morning.
 
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fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
This trip report is a lot of fun already! Good job! I've smiled at quite a few comments. It's interesting to hear about traveling with big kids too... mine are still young and it gives me hope that we'll be dragging teenagers around the parks one of these days!

Big kids are definately different than little ones. Mine still love Disney, which I'm grateful. I hope you're as lucky!

You have a beautiful family, glad you had such a great time! We're spending the second half of our honeymoon at WDW and we're spending our first three days at the Beach Club before moving to a suite at the Swan. October 7th cannot get here soon enough!

Thank you! I don't think you can go wrong anywhere in the Epcot Resort area.


Loving your TR and can't wait to read more! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks and your welcome!

Your trip report is tons of fun! I really had wanted to finally try one of those Grand Marnier slushies this trip but didn't get to...next time I guess! I did somehow get to have to of my favorite lime slushy margaritas in Mexico. :slurp:

Frozen drinks @ WS in the summer RULE!

Loving the update... Isn't funny how safe you feel when you are in Disney? I don't think you could have done that anywhere else.

Oh I can not wait for a Lemon slushie and a margarita!!! 1 more week to go!

You're right - and have one for me!

Mmmmmmm... Grand Marnier slushies.... Delish!!! :slurp:


Worth risking a brain freeze for! :) - and when are you going to finish your TR?
 

BoardwalkGlenn

Active Member
Great report so far! Can't wait to ready more.

This was our family's fourth trip to the World ( Toni's third ) and one of the things I wanted to accomplish was to do thing we never did before. All of our dinner reservations were at places we've never eaten before. Likewise, I wanted to try different quick-service spots. I wanted to get away from the typical choice of burgers, chicken and salad. This is were the vast combined knowledge of WDWMagic members helped out. I learned about the "hidden" quick serves and planned for them; so it was off to Japan for lunch.

This October will be my fifth major trip to the World and I plan on doing exactly the same -- all counter service & dining reservations at places I haven't tried before. There's just too many to choose from.

I then found out to my excitement that The Voice of Liberty's next performance was in 10 minutes. This was something on my to do list. It was also something the rest of the family had no idea about so I had to sell it hard.

In the end, we walked into a practically empty rotunda and were directed to sit on the floor in the middle of the room. It was the best place for the acoustics - the air conditioned room and the cold marble floor was another strong selling point. The kids and I sat on the floor, while Val opted to watch from a bench despite our beckoning.

What can I say? They were great! They sang for about 15 minutes or so and we were all impressed. Even Alex and Sterg!


The Voices of Liberty are a must-do several times a trip for us. Since we'll be at the Boardwalk this visit, I'm sure I'll be a groupie/almost-verging-on-stalker.

I got Val a Grand Marnier slushie and a Grey Goose Citron Lemon Slushie for myself. Man did they hit the spot! Val actually liked my drink better ( so did I ) so I decided to swap with her. Oh, the sacrifices we men must make.

Um...yeah I need one of those Grand Marnier slushes now. Maybe I should try the Grey Goose Citron Lemon slush next time.
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
After the show in France, we made our way back to the Beach Club and met Sterg and Toni in our rooms. The first thing I wanted to do once in the room was to take pictures of it - but I got distracted with bags and unpacking and laying on the bed. I'm sorry to say that the only picture I took was a picture of the view we had from our ground floor garden view room.

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The BC was stripping and painting that section of the resort - so every morning around 9am the guys would show up with their power tools and start stripping paint. This was enough to get me moving in the morning ( but not enough for some others in the family ). You may ask why I didn't ask for another room. The reason is simple. Originally we were to arrive on Monday the 8th thru Sunday the 14th, all at the Beach Club Villas. Our schedule changed and we were able to arrive on Saturday the 6th and stay till Saturday the 13th ( which meant an extra day at WDW!) but the only way they could accommodate that was if we stayed in this room for two nights. Done deal - and at no extra cost!

After we unpacked some things, Val and the kids headed to the pool. I on the other hand used this time to take some pictures around the resort. Since I joined this site I have been impressed and inspired by the great photography in the picture of the day thread and the trip reports. I took Tom Bricker's recommendation and purchased Understanding Exposure.
by Bryan Peterson a few months ago. I also purchased a new Sony NEX-3 digital camera. The Sony is one of the smallest digitals with interchangeable lenses on the market. I choose this over a DSLR mostly because of the size.

Bottomline - I now know a lot more about photography than I did 6 months ago, but I'm not sure if that has made me a better photographer. I took about 80% of the pictures on this trip in Manual Mode and spent a bunch of time fiddling around with the Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO settings. It was frustrating, time consuming, but also fun and educational.
Let's just say many pictures were deleted, but the trial and error part of it became a fun challenge. When you get everything right it is pretty rewarding. So a thank you to the great photographers on this board that inspired me to open up a new path of learning and what may be my new favorite hobby!

Here are some shots I took that afternoon – some of which went through a bit of editing.





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This is one of my favorite areas. Along the pathway are speakers that play some great “chillin’ out” music - plus the trees provide some nice shade.

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fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
Some more pics. I tried to be a bit "artsy with some of these"...Please feel free to comment - I am more than open to constructive criticism. I coached a lot of youth sports in my day and the one thing I know is continuously saying " Oh, great job, great job, you did wonderful" doesn't help make anybody a better player.

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A quick shot of the pool -

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Around the "jib" slide

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WDW_Princess24

Active Member
I mean, I don't know much about photography but, I did enjoy those last shots of BC. I too have been inspired by the beautiful pictures taken by so many of the members, glad you took it up as a hobby. Hopefully one day i'll get moving on that. Keep shootin'!!
 

cfry06

Well-Known Member
I'm also really enjoying your TR, commentary and photos! And also happen to be a Berks County resident :). Love all of the BC pics. Hope to stay there in the future.

Looking forward to the rest of your family's adventures!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
Before long it was time to get going for dinner. Dinner that evening was at Sanaa which is located in Kadani Village @ Animal Kingdom Lodge. In order for us to get there we needed to take a bus to AK then grab a bus to AK Lodge. It actually sounds worse than it was.

All dressed and ready to go.

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This was the first time we visited Animal Kingdom Lodge and we were all impressed from the moment we stepped off the bus. Walking up to the entrance of the Kidani.

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The lobby itself was breathtaking. From the sculptured glass lighting to the large "fractured" window overlooking the savanna to the African stylized walls, textures and fixtures.

These pictures don't do it justice.

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there were various little sitting spots - like this one in front of a fireplace that were oozing with details.

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And how many hotel lobbies can you get a peek of a giraffe from?

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-and this was just the beginning of our love affair with Kidani Village and Sanaa. I hope the Beach Club can forgive me for this little fling. :)
 
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PartOfYourWorld

Well-Known Member
Thank you for telling me what to expect when I explore manual mode on my camera for my upcoming trip! I also bought the same book and took Tom Bricker's advice and have gotten halfway through it, I'm highlighting and taking notes so thanks for giving me a heads up it could be frustrating. Glad to see someone else was just as inspired as I was from these boards! :sohappy:

Your beach club pictures are beautiful. I really love the EPCOT resorts they are so pretty!

Can't wait to read the rest!
 

Ariel484

Well-Known Member
You seem to have a good understanding of composition (something that I am still working on)...I think the pictures are great! No constructive criticism from me...nice job :)

I'm looking forward to your review of Sanaa. We tried it for the first time in June and LOVED it. Perhaps a stay at Kidani is in your future??
 
:wave:I'm living proof that you will survive the teenage years!:ROFLOL:They do become human again :Dand will actually ask you for advice on important matters!:cool:We were the parents to 6 charming individuals and were almost there....:rolleyes:, then it happened:hammer:#7, so we still feel your pain:brick: We leave Sunday for a surprise trip with the boy who is now 14!:lol:
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
We checked in @ Sanaa and got a buzzer - which meant we had some time to go out on the observation deck that placed you in the Savanna. This was the first time I can remember being thankful that we had to wait for our reservation.

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The "deck" led you out to a circular area surrounding a large rock filled fireplace. It must be a great area at night. The fireplace was surrounded by wood carved rocking chairs ( definitely not something you could pick up at Lowes ).

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Even the outside lights provided a dose of that Disney infused detailing.

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This spot got you a nice view of the animals, like this guy - but the giraffes and ostriches were hiding for the moment.

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Looking back at the lobby -
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In this shot you can see another elevated observation area that can be accessed off of the lobby. Very cool!
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fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
Great report so far! Can't wait to ready more.



This October will be my fifth major trip to the World and I plan on doing exactly the same -- all counter service & dining reservations at places I haven't tried before. There's just too many to choose from.




The Voices of Liberty are a must-do several times a trip for us. Since we'll be at the Boardwalk this visit, I'm sure I'll be a groupie/almost-verging-on-stalker.



Um...yeah I need one of those Grand Marnier slushes now. Maybe I should try the Grey Goose Citron Lemon slush next time.

Definitely try the Grey Goose! Are you a singer?

I mean, I don't know much about photography but, I did enjoy those last shots of BC. I too have been inspired by the beautiful pictures taken by so many of the members, glad you took it up as a hobby. Hopefully one day i'll get moving on that. Keep shootin'!!

Thanks. There is a lot of talent on this board. If you can shoot Manual in your camera - get that book and give it a try!

I'm really enjoying your TR so far! Can't wait to read more from a fellow Berks County resident!

Thanks! I often tell people Berks County is a great place to live because we rarely have any natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Now we may have both in the same week. :confused:

I'm also really enjoying your TR, commentary and photos! And also happen to be a Berks County resident :). Love all of the BC pics. Hope to stay there in the future.

Looking forward to the rest of your family's adventures!

Thanks - and I'm loving that Berks County is "representing" ( as my teenagers would say ) tonight! Great place to live.


Thank you for telling me what to expect when I explore manual mode on my camera for my upcoming trip! I also bought the same book and took Tom Bricker's advice and have gotten halfway through it, I'm highlighting and taking notes so thanks for giving me a heads up it could be frustrating. Glad to see someone else was just as inspired as I was from these boards! :sohappy:

Your beach club pictures are beautiful. I really love the EPCOT resorts they are so pretty!

Can't wait to read the rest!

Thanks! Manual is a lot of trial and error. I spent some time before the trip taking pictures of things around the house in different light and changing shutter speeds, etc. Digital cameras make that more manageable and affordable than film. Good luck in your journey!
 

fractal

Premium Member
Original Poster
You seem to have a good understanding of composition (something that I am still working on)...I think the pictures are great! No constructive criticism from me...nice job :)

I'm looking forward to your review of Sanaa. We tried it for the first time in June and LOVED it. Perhaps a stay at Kidani is in your future??

I guess. Nothing close to some of the top stuff posted here. Simple things like "focus" sometimes screws me up. thanks for the compliment. We loved Sanaa - full report coming. Good observation - Kidani is a very tempting option!

:wave:I'm living proof that you will survive the teenage years!:ROFLOL:They do become human again :Dand will actually ask you for advice on important matters!:cool:We were the parents to 6 charming individuals and were almost there....:rolleyes:, then it happened:hammer:#7, so we still feel your pain:brick: We leave Sunday for a surprise trip with the boy who is now 14!:lol:

Wow! Seven. God bless you. Have a great time on your trip and thanks for the glimmer of hope!
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Your pictures are GREAT!!! But I totally know what you mean about playing around with camera settings. At least your camera sounds like it's pretty lightweight. I went for the DSLR last year and while there are things I love about it - it's alot to lug around...especially with 2 little kids. Of course, I have a tendency to forget things- so having a big hunking camera might be good for me. I might also need to look into that book...could help me considerably!

Jealous of your slushies in France and what a view from your room! :D Can't wait to read more! :wave:
 

Captain Chaos

Well-Known Member
fractal, loving your trip reports.. The pictures are amazing and makes me wish I was leaving tomorrow instead of 35 days from now... Tell me, what did you think of Sanaa??? This was your first time dining there right??? I ate there in 2009 and LOVED IT!!! Sanaa, after just one sitting, became a favorite of mine, along with Boma!!!

Keep those pictures coming...
 

Uncle Lupe

Well-Known Member
I'm loving this TR, getting me reved up for our trip. This sounds stupid but your pics helped reinforce the reason we are flying. Leave home in the morning and are in Epcot by the afternoon. You could make some custom shirts for your next trip, "The Fractal Five". Just go full blown Clark Griswold on the teens.
 

BoardwalkGlenn

Active Member
Definitely try the Grey Goose! Are you a singer?

I'll definitely try it!

Yeah but not professionally. Just throughout HS and college (in PA:wave:), church, and now a community chorus in Baltimore...karaoke occasionally. My profile pic is from the American Idol Experience at HS in 2009.
 

Ariel484

Well-Known Member
I guess. Nothing close to some of the top stuff posted here. Simple things like "focus" sometimes screws me up. thanks for the compliment. We loved Sanaa - full report coming. Good observation - Kidani is a very tempting option!

I'm a photography noob too...one thing I don't get is how some other photos (form other members) come out with such bright, beautiful color, and I can't really get mine to do that. :shrug: That is the #1 thing that bothers me about my photos. I also get the impression that a lot of extra accessories are bought (people will mention gels, filters, etc.) and that a lot of post-production/photoshop work is done...it gets overwhelming! I think I am stubborn and just want the camera to do everything itself! :lol:

Glad that you loved Sanaa! :) I think it's definitely a hidden gem (though we've come to think that about most resort restaurants). We were supposed to stay in Kidani in June but it didn't work out, so we ended up in Jambo, which was great. Maybe we'll get to Kidani someday.
 

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