The Seebee Clan's Return! EPIC!


#1

Hi everyone, seebee here. You might remember me from such threads as:
“Surprising the kids with the trip”

OR

“Trip Report 11/3-11/8”

Well, we made it back for a 10/31-11/6 epic tour de force. We honed in on what was important to us, and had an absolute blast. We only wound up full out, foot hurtin’ tired one day, but we wouldn’t have traded it for anything. It was worth it. And the effects didn’t carry over to the next day. The feets were not that bad at all. Before I get to the touring deets, I’ll preface.

This trip was kind of a “This is it for WDW!” trip. We’ll probably go back in two years for a quick three day to check out Galaxy’s Edge, and whatever else is new after the SW fanfare dies down, but this trip was planned to be the “we’re done” trip. Not in a bad way, either. We’ve gladly had our fill, and vacations will just be different places going forward. We still have to do Universal - but that’s only a few days, and not as much planning.

So, from the start, this was pretty simple, because, we just needed to pick an appropriate time frame, because we knew where we’d be staying. Swolphin, all the way, baby! Costco makes things so darn easy. Highly recommend you give them a glance if you are members. Jr’s school gave us a four day weekend choice of MLK or Election Day, and early November weather, plus low crowd levels was the easy choice for us. So that was set. Next, airfare. From Chicago, we found round trip for a hair over 200 bux each. No Brainer! We actually wound up booking the flights via Coscto as well. They had the same price we found, PLUS, they had a special offer if we booked with United in a pkg. (we missed the deal by one day, it was a limited supply deal, and their booking agent said it sold out quicker than they thought it would.) Not a big deal, still decent price. So with dates, flights and tickets all in place…the strategy.

Why Swolphin?
My reasons:

  1. Price + Location. Go ahead, price out BC/YC, or BW. Those are my only comps. Don’t you dare tell me CBR is “Epcot Area.” It’s the ONLY “Ep Area” resort that is not on the walking path for Epcot and Hollyweird, so, just save it.

  2. The dining plan does not work for us. At ALL. We just don’t eat that much food, or snack that much. We’re also trying to eat sensibly, even while on vacation. Trust me, we ATE.We pigged out a few times, but the DP would be way too much food for us. Since we don’t need a dining plan, Swolphin is even more attractive for us.

  3. The pools. Just awesome.

  4. Kimonos. We eat sushi. Kimonos is a super value.

  5. Those Heavenly Beds are pretty nice.

  6. We have TSA precheck, so using DME would just tick us off to leave that early for our return flight. Uber is 30-45 bucks each way. NO big deal at all. I actually had a once way rental car set up from Costco for 40 dollars, but decided to cancel it. I could rent a car at MCO, and then return it at Swolphin to the valet, and not be charged for parking. We decided that Uber would probably just be faster than having to go to the rental desk after landing. Uber is our friend, by the way…well, I almost choked one out on the way to Hollyweird for emm - more on that later…

Ok, so back to WDW strategy. We are early risers, and the Costco pkg includes hoppers (you can modify your tickets, too, and take the hoppers off.) So planning park days is simple: Always go to the park with AM EMH, then chill at the pools during the hottest part of the day, then hop to a diff park at night for little while - usually for pre-planned fastpasses, or just to check out shows - low stress stuff. Since these ppl I live with were not that interested in Fantasmic again ( I don’t agree with that one, I like F!) and they were not interested in Illuminations (that I can let slide,) I decided in order to go for big air for the last trip, to do the SW dessert party, and also the HEA Dessert party. This decision also meant that we’d be in bed or the pool earlier on a few nights, since we were skipping two night shows. I learned from our last trip to remember to RELAX where you can. It’s a vacation…CHILL. Don’t rug yourself ragged. Keep your feet happy. I swear, even though on paper, you want to see as much as possible, you gotta prioritize to have time to CHILL, and enjoy the time together. It’s a vacation, and an expensive one at that. ENJOY IT. Ok, so now we have a basic outline of what to accomplish:

  1. Go to each park
  2. SW and HEA dessert parties
  3. No need for illuminations or (sigh) F!

In looking at the EMH patterns, and applying them to our trip dates, FP selection was easy. I was up and at em right when I needed to be, and I got everything pretty much perfectly, except no SLinky.
No worries. We’d RD slinky on HS EMH day, and if the line was too long, screw it. Reports were that TSMM had been walk ons during EMH, and we are TSMMaholics so - all good.

BUT THEN, Walt slyly announced EMM on Nov 5th. BONUS! Grabbed that as soon as I heard.

BIG AIR.
All set!

As for ADR’s?

Yeah. I don’t care. Res Finder for the win. All. Day. Long. We don’t play into the ADR game. The restaurants at Swolphin are pretty great, and well priced. No need to play Walt’s games for food. i choose the parks first and foremost, then once those are penciled in, I figure out my TP, and where I’ll be at a time we’ll want food, and go from there. I made adr’s for Tusker House, Teppan Edo, Hoop De Doo, (and the EMM, and two dessert parties if you wanna count those.) Park food was Columbia Harbor House, Flame Tree, Sunshine Seasons, Backlot Express. We turned the Dessert parties into dinners, and it worked out just fine. Completely enough food for us, Both have plenty of savory items to load up on, and we did just that…TRUST ME, we were full.

I’ll post more very soon. We absolutely CRUSHED WDW. I think in 5 days of tickets, no joke, we did TOT (Jr’s new favorite) 14 times. We completely mastered FP hunting, and everyone needs to use mobile ordering at the QS places. I simply couldn’t understand all the lines, but most mobile ordering lines were totally empty. We just walked up, grabbed our stuff, and found a place to sit, easy peasy. Coming up:

Day 1:
Epcot, Thursday, 1, November, AKA - “Test Track and LWTL are STILL DOWN???”

Stay Tuned!


#2

Thursday, 1 November.

Epcot AM EMH.

Our first day was planned to be 8am to 6:30 in Epcot, then a stop at Ample Hills on the way to the Swolphin Pool complex.We had Epcot totally figured out for what we wanted to do:
Soarin twice
Test Track twice
Mission Space
Livin With The Land
Behind The Seeds Tour
Sunshine Seasons
Spaceship Earth
Grand Fiesta
Sergio
Seveur Amusant
American Adventure
Matsuritza.
Tepan Edo.

Epcot…My Nemesis.

Made it to the IG with plenty of time to spare. Left the room about 7:45, and we were through bag check and tapstiles a few minutes before 8 (Epcot Area Resorts, YASSS!)

Rocked out Soarin twice, no biggie.
Then over to Test Track, and…DOWN. No big deal…but…Mission Space - NOT OPEN FOR EMH!
We hustled back to Soarin (what the hay? I DO like Soarin!) Got in another flight. Walked back across to TT, and the line was almost all the way back to the crosswalk to get to Mission Space. NOTHANKYOU! So, with 15 minutes to wait, we decided to hang out for Mission Space to open. Walked on, and came back out to check TT for our 9am FP. Down Again! So, the plan was to do LWTL just before 10am, to then check in for our 10:30 Behind The Seeds tour. Headed back to the Land Pavillion, and guess what, y’all? LIVIN WITH THE LAND WAS DOWN, TOO!!! Have you ever heard such a thing? Called an audible, and went to the Starbux to regroup (don’t forget about their ice water at their milk/sugar station!) Waited for 15 minutes in that crazy line for a coffee and scone, and a few fills of that delicious ice water.) Then headed back to The Land Pavillion - LWTL still down, but the tour was still gonna happen, so we checked in. The Tour was a gem, as everyone says on these boards. Well worth the 25.00. Do it. Jr was called on to help the tour guide quite a few times, kept him engaged. I kept checking TT and LWTL - STILL DOWN. (We did get an anytime FP replacement for TT, AND…I played the system a little. Since we no longer needed our FP for Mission Space, I modified it to LWTL, hoping that I’d get an anytime replacement for it since it was down…SCORE! So now, two anytime FP’s! After the tour, lunch at Sunshine Seasons.
DW and I shared the Mongolian Beef, and I thought it was a letdown. Didn’t live up to the hype. I expected more. It was mostly fillers of carrots, and uncleaned peapods. It DID have a little spicy kick to it, and that was the nicest thing I could say about it. Jr got the pizza kids meal, and said it wasn’t very good, either.

After lunch, LWTL was back online, we decided to actually use the anytime FP for it, since TT was STILL OFFLINE, and the standby line for LWTL was crazy. Nice little boat ride, but do the tour.

Walked up to spaceship earth, FP’d it, and then saw that TT was back online. TT was to be our last stop in FW before heading to WS for snacks and shows. As we approached TT, we could see the line again. THE FP LINE WAS ALL WAY back to the sign in the circular display. NOPE.

SO, off to FW. We planned to circle back to TT later in the day. So, our Street Show timing was all thrown off. I figured our first stop from TT would be Gran Fiesta to recalculate the rest of the day while on the boat ride.
Guess what…as I was checking mde…
GRAN FIESTA WAS DOWN!
ET TU, GRAN FIESTA???
At this point, i just laughed. We must have brought this bad luck from Chicago, right? So we started walking, and as we passed the Mexico Pavillion, GF came back online. We headed in, and…I gotta say…it was a letdown. It had no real theme to the scenes being played on the tv’s. Nice little break, boa ride in the dark, but, other than that, if I knew, I would have skipped it, 100%. I’ve only heard that it was underrated, but I disagree. Never have to do that one again.

SO…GF out of the way, TP calculated it best for us to hustle all the way to France, then back to Japan, then Sergio. We decided to NIX The American Adventure in favor of our determination to get TT in. We backtracked to WS, and walked on TT before our Teppan Edo Res. I gotta tell ya something about TT - we must have always been in the back seat only on previous visits, because when we got off, we all thought the car had like TWICE the leg room. It is a totally different ride if you’re in the front seat. I’d wait for front seat - totally worth it. Had to walk with a purpose to Teppan Edo for the res, and…WE LOVED IT. Granted, we were tired, hungry, and thirsty, but it was Jr’s first teppanyaki experiencce, and he had a great time. Our chef was very funny, and didn’t take himself too seriously, he had everyone at the table laughing.

WS notes:
The Escargot Croissant was really just…“OK.”
The France Ice cream brioche sandwich was decent.
SERGIO is a riot! DO NOT MISS SERGIO!!
The hummus fries everyone is talking bout are excellent. Surprisingly spicy!
Teppan Edo is a decent value in Disney terms.

After dinner, we stopped at Ample Hills (ALWAYS stop at Ample Hills if you are anywhere near the Boardwalk. Remember this. Always stop at Ample Hills.)

Took a quick dip in the Swolphin pools and hot tubs, and then sleep came early. We criss-crossed, and added far more steps than we planned, and we had to rush a few times, so we were pretty tired. Still a great day. Take that, Epcot! We still crushed you!

Coming up: Day 2 - EMH at Hollyweird and our first ever…Dessert Party!!!


#3

That was some great thinking on your feet! Glad you come out victorious :slight_smile:


#4

You had really bad luck with the rides being down! Glad it all worked out.


#5

Two thoughts.

  1. I absolutely love that you pick your restaurants last. One of my DH’s pet peeves is that the FPP and ADRs rule the day. Your approach is so much better. Thanks for sharing.
  2. Do you scrapbook? Because all of this would be brilliant in a photo book. Just sayin’.

#6

I’m making a big photo book, and possibly a wall hanging with magicbands, photos, and party passes/lanyards.

The food is not worth stressing over AT ALL, imo. Maybe crt, but we don’t have any princesses here. Res finder has always come through for us.