Good Morning Everyone!
Our travelling party of 5 (me, wife, 2 kids and my MIL) just got back last night from 5 Days in the bubble, so I thought I’d share some experiences and maybe some tips for everyone.
First of all, for cost saving, we flew into Tampa (TPA) instead of Orlando. Got a great deal on a rental mini-van through Costco (under $200 total) and our flight was a lot less than the options I saw into Orlando for the same period. For anyone who has never flown into TPA, you might want to consider it. The airport is great, well organized and kinda empty. To me, MCO, is pure chaos all the time. We checked in online with Alamo, so no counter to deal with. All in all, from landing to baggage claim to rental car to the Poly was just under two hours, which I thought was amazing.
On the way to the Poly, I got the text that our room was ready, at 1 PM! That was a win! Since we checked in online, we never visited the front desk all week, right to the room! I used the TP room request fax and got pretty close to what I wanted, 3rd Floor of Tokelau. We were staying on rented DVC points.
The room itself was exactly what I expected. Queen Bed, sleeper sofa and murphy bed under the TV. For the 5 of us, it worked out great. The two showers were very helpful, but they should have really considered adding a second toilet too. The one bathroom is very large and that space could’ve been used to give the bathroom next door a toilet also.
For our arrival day, we opted for an evening at MK. Took the monorail over, had our TP and FP’s all set and we were off. Had dinner at Columbia Harbor House, using Mobile Ordering and our food was ready when we walked up. CHH is decent CS, and definitely our favorite in MK. At about 7 PM, a slight sprinkle set in, which turned into a shower while we were on the People Mover. Eventually that tapered off and we got a little wet, but no big deal. The castle was lit for Christmas that night, (I assume it was a test) and it looked amazing. It was a long day and our plan all along was to leave before fireworks, maybe just watch them from the resort. As we headed out the exit, the monorail line was backed up, but I knew that boat service was available to the Poly, so I suggested that. We got in line on the dock and the rain started picking up. The captain got us on and warned us that we may get a little damp, as the resort boats are small and not well covered…how bad can it be right? It was horrible, about 2 minutes into our ride, the monsoon set in. Drenching downpours, high winds and then…lightning on the Seven Seas Lagoon. The sea was angry that day, my friends. My daughter whispers to me that this was like a horror movie, I kinda agreed. Then I looked at my wife’s angry face, and I knew it was worse than a horror movie, because this was real! The captain managed to get us to the GF, finally getting the boat tied up after several attempts fighting the waves. Then we got the great news that the boat was stopping there due to the lightning. Now we were all completely drenched and had to walk from the dock, in a monsoon, through the fanciest hotel on the property. My wife’s mascara was running down her face and she was not thrilled at the looks we were all getting. It was a very silent trip back to the Poly via the monorail, which of course runs the opposite direction of our where we we headed. Back the Poly, I took everyone’s sneakers down to the laundry room to dry them out ($3 for a dryer cycle with a door that kept opening every 5 minutes!). Finally got to bed about 11, after this very interesting day.
On Monday, we got to EPCOT about a half hour before RD with our plan ready to go. Upon RD, we headed right to TT as we had our Tier 1 FP for FEA at 1:30. As we rounded the corner towards TT, CM informed us that TT was not operational…about face over to Soarin’. Rode Soarin’ pretty quick as well the Living with the Land and then over to Mission Space to use our first FP. Rode both green and orange as there was light crowds. Test Track still down and now FEA was down also…great! At this point we headed over to World Showcase and started picking random snacks and drinks to try as we had no lunch plans. My favorite food was definitely the fried pork belly from the Brazil booth and my wife liked the Red Hot Spicy Curry Beef from the Thailand booth. We tried various beer and drinks throughout the day, but nothing really stood out to either of us. FEA was still down so we chose to use our replacement FP on TT. For the next few hours, we hit some more booths, watched some shows, rode Spaceship Earth for one last time before the planned renovation. We had dinner reservations for 7 at Rose and Crown, and I was looking forward to it as we’ve never eaten there before. It was lousy. Upon arrival, 15 minutes early, we asked for a table outside if possible. They said they were very busy and aren’t taking requests. We ended up getting a table with no windows inside, very disappointed. The food itself was overpriced garbage, I’ve had many better meals at Wendy’s for a fraction of the price. The server was friendly, but not really attentive to our table. We will definitely never go back again. It was another long day, so we skipped Illuminations and headed back to the resort. On a side note, this was our 3rd F&W EPCOT visit and we definitely saw the most matching shirts ever about people proclaiming how drunk they were going to get, drinking around the “world”. I am okay with that, just never saw so much advertising before.
Tuesday at HS started off with issues too, as R&RC was down at RD, so we hit TOT twice with no lines and then by 9:30, R&RC was back up. We rode that back to back also and it is becoming my 11 y/o daughters new favorite ride. Our first journey into TSL was the insanity I expected. The crowds were insane for such a relatively small space. We used a FP for AS2 and wasn’t very impressed with it, kinds boring actually, but there was still a 60 minute standby line. SDD was 85 at midday and we delayed that until later when we waited 65 minutes. SDD was actually pretty fun. The line moved, so the time was manageable. It was posted at 60, we waited 65, so Disney is gauging this accurately. We did the usual rides with little or no wait, grabbing new FP’s while in the park. Find what you want, select it, then keep modifying for better times…it works pretty well with patience. We did lunch at Woody’s using mobile ordering. Even with mobile ordering we waited about 15 minutes for our food at the window so that was kinda a fail. The food there was pretty good though, I had the brisket sandwich and tried my daughters Tatchos, which were both nice portions. The only bad part was the seating, it is not even close to enough. We ended up at a high table with no chairs, which was no a great fit for our 7 y/o. They need to address this issue as I heard others complaining too. For dinner we tried 50’s PT for the first time. Cool setting and great service, Dale stayed character nicely. I had the meatloaf, which was the smallest piece of meatloaf I have every seen, I was tempted to ask if they gave me a kids portion by accident, but then I remembered it wasn’t on the kids menu. In comparison, my daughter and MIL both got the fried chicken, which appeared to be entire GMO chicken for both of them. After dinner, we headed back to the Poly for a couple hours poolside, which everyone enjoyed, the lava pool is very nice and I even tried the waterslide (I promise I waited my turn). After the kids went to sleep, my MIL stayed in the room with them and me and the wife headed down to Trader Sam’s…what a fun place! At 9:30, we walked in and found an available table for 2. You seat yourself and the place is pretty small. The waitstaff are fun and extremely corny, but a good time was had by everyone. Whenever a specialty drink is ordered, the show begins, make sure you participate in the nonsense and if you are told to swim when the nautilus comes out make sure you do, or prepare to get wet. I’m not sure why, but we came home with a giant glass drink boat (the nautilus) and a large tiki mug. I’m sure the beverages that came in them had something to do with that though.
Wednesday at AK went pretty well actually. We arrived at RD, but when the masses went for FOP, we headed straight to NRJ and walked right on. Since we had a FP for FOP later that day, this plan worked well. Back to NRJ, I actually thought it was a weak ride. It looked cool and all inside, but I really have no desire to ever ride it again. KS was next and had no wait at all, this is still a favorite of ours though. At this point, 9:30, FOP was showing a 165 minute wait. We hit EE twice in the morning, and this has become my 7 y/o’s favorite ride. On his last visit, he wasn’t tall enough, so after some apprehension, he ended up riding it four times this day. We hit all the rides with really no wait at all, as everyone was in Pandora. We had lunch at Satu’li Canteen and this is, by far, the best CS at DW. I had the chicken bowl and this could easily top many entrees at most TS restaurants. I finished with the Blueberry Mousse and the presentation alone was amazing, and the taste topped that. We had dinner at Tusker House, our second time there. This was part of the ROL package, so that is the only reason we ate there. The food at Tusker isn’t as good as I remember, kids like the characters, but I think that phase is just about over, probably won’t return. ROL itself was cool to see, but I think that is a once and done thing too. After our early dinner, we made it over to FOP for our FP time. This ride is worth the fuss and the time if you have to wait. At 5 PM, the listed wait was 70 minutes. This is basically Soarin’ on horse steroids…it is really that amazing. Now to even top that, due to a “technical” issue, my wife was handed 5 paper FP’s on her way out without even asking. We were thrilled and enjoyed it again, thanks to the wonderful CM’s there. On our way out, we rode EE one more time, but for the first time ever at night. What a completely new experience, it was probably the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on (I ride them all), just because of the outside darkness factor. We drove that day, since we had the car and wanted a little more sleep, so the ride back to Poly was nice and easy.
Thursday morning at MK had issues too. Got there early for RD, lined up outside Tomorrowland, and about 5 minutes before the drop, we were informed that SM was down…c’mon!!! Gotta love these broken down rides at RD almost EVERYDAY! Oh and then I looked and POTC was down too. MK lines never really recovered after this fiasco. I thought it would be a great day to tour with it being the first MVMCP that night, but I wasn’t meant to be. We got in what we wanted, POTC and SM both opened later and we got on both, but was hoping for multiple SM rides. The Christmas decorations were all up, so that made for some good photos, so not all bad. We ate lunch at Skipper’s Canteen, which was another TS disappointment. The prices keep going up and the portion sizes and food quality keep going down. The service was okay, but the jokes seemed forced, when you heard the exact same lines at the table next to you, 5 minutes later (get a rotation going please!). Back to the Poly at 4, just as they were about to let in the party crowd. Spent some more time at the pool with a Dole Whip float, followed by an adult beverage. Dinner that night was at Ohana. We had a 7 PM reservation and were seated immediately. The service was excellent, and the food was mostly good. The apps were really enjoyable, especially the pot stickers. The shrimp and chicken didn’t have much taste, but the steak was fantastic and I had several servings. The highlight of the night was easily the bread pudding, the best dessert all week (and I’m a dole whip addict). After that put us all in coma, it was off to bed for our departure in the morning.
In conclusion, we had a great time. The kids really enjoyed it and so did I. For the future, I think I am mostly done with TS restaurants as I was pretty let down on this trip. I think TPA is the way to fly in, EE is amazing at night and make sure you swim hard at Trader Sam’s!
Thanks for reading.