I know this is not gaming related, but I have had a tradition here of asking you for vacation advice and you’ve always come through. Since this is THE BIG ONE, help me ObiBearwani, you’re my only (trusted) hope!
The Big One. This is it. The Once in a Lifetime, buckle your seatbelts, do that one crazy vacation trip thing that makes no financial sense whatsoever but will provide a cherished memory for the children that will last a lifetime, rah rah rah.
We are heading to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in mid-March for a special spring break vacation, coinciding with Alex’s birthday. He has no idea yet, which makes for interesting conversations around the house.
Sound good? Sound fun? Just don’t start thinking about the material items that kind of money can buy, think instead of supporting the economy and building memories.
Just keep spending, just keep spending, what do we do, we spend, spend. I mean swim, swim.
Anyway, we have a bit of decision making to do, the kind that a careful planner can stress about for days and lose sleep over.
We have booked the whole trip already. Soup to nuts, all-in meal plans, multiple parks planned, the whole enchilada. Mmm, enchiladas.
Bacon enchiladas? Hmm. Must investigate.
For our stay, we had booked one of the new Royal Garden Rooms at the Port Orleans Riverside, where they have been doing extensive renovations - a pretty looking themed resort based on the movie The Princess and the Frog, what Disney considers a ‘moderate’ level resort with multiple pools, nice eating options, and the plus of a freshly renovated room with 2 queen beds and really neat theming.
Any gamer can appreciate making selections based on level. The difficulty level of this resort is moderate. In MMO terms, you get more guild perks, but you don’t get a mount unless you upgrade.
Situation: The Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms were set to open the middle of February, so we thought we were being safe in giving it a month to get the damn thing done remodeling. Guess what, last week it was discovered that construction is three weeks behind (at best) and will now not be available until after we arrive. Maybe.
Through Cassie’s research and forum activities (read in there – crazy stalking) on some Disney boards, she learned of this big ass delay just last week, and she’s been following the process of how they are handling it. Reading the forums devoted to sharing information about Disney trips, forums essentially devoted to stalking every move Disney makes at their resorts, seems to pay off.
It seems that people who had a royal room at the Port Orleans Riverside booked, who now won’t be able to have that room for their trip, are getting bumped to a ‘deluxe’ resort instead of the ‘moderate’ for no additional cost!
There’s some question as to whether we’ll get the offer because the new rooms are projected to open a day or two after we get there, so there’s some potential that they could offer us a different room at POR and then move us. But general consensus/gossip is that all who are affected in any way are getting the upgrade option. Some are getting a choice from a few available, others have been getting to basically choose their dream deluxe resort from all of them. Contemporary and Grand Floridian are typically not being included – although a couple people reported they were able to select the GF, so it seems to flex a bit depending on which representative calls.
Do you get the Fairy Godmother or the Wicked Witch that day? Only the call center knows.
We want to be ready with a decision if they call and Cassie has been obsessively looking at all the options for days now, and she wants some advice.
Here’s where we’re at:
The majority are choosing and/or being offered the Polynesian first. It looks like a really nice option and has the monorail available (which Alex would probably be super thrilled with riding in), being able to watch Wishes and the Electric Water Parade from the beach, great tropical feel, nice quick service food option for breakfast. Downsides are the volcano slide is going to be waaaay too scary for Alex based on a video Cassie watched (he’s getting braver with longer slides at Wisconsin Dells, but nothing enclosed all the way at the top and really dark like the volcano one) and there’s no hot tub (which is also one of Alex’s favorite parts of any swimming excursion).
Wilderness is probably out because we have the Great Wolf Lodge that we frequently visit in Wisconsin Dells and the theming feels a bit too similar, so it’s not as exciting to us (although the lobby is beautiful).
Grand Floridian looks beautiful, but is a little too “fancy” for our tastes especially with Alex. Seems more like an adult type of theming.
Beach Club/Yacht Club also looks very nice and we like the option to walk or boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. But not sure how much time we’ll really have for swimming or what the weather will be like in early/mid March either. Plus again, it’s a fancy waterpark which we have lots of at Wisconsin Dells and the slide looks too scary for Alex at this one too.
So that would leave:
The Polynesian (see thoughts above)
Animal Kingdom Lodge, which looks really cool, but we probably would not get the upgrade to a Savannah room, instead would have a standard view (parking lot, buildings, etc). While everyone affected by POR situation is getting upgraded to deluxe, the category you get there is limited to the type of royal room you booked. We booked garden view as it was the only one available at the time, but there were also water view and river view options added afterwards and those people get the Savannah view, Lagoon View, Theme Park view, etc at the Deluxe level. We like the look of the pool and, of course, the animals at the AKL. Downside is that it’s more out of the way, especially since we only plan to do one day at AKL and our room wouldn’t have a nice view unless we get super lucky at check-in.
Boardwalk Inn – The pool area at this one looks really fun and like something Alex would enjoy (the crazy clown slide, animals around the pool, etc). Downsides are really not much for quick service options for breakfasts/fast meals and a bit more adult feel to the resort from the pictures we’ve seen.
So, what are your thoughts/experiences from those that have been to any/all of these? Cassie is going insane and has viewed hundreds of pages of comments/opinions/fact sheets/videos/etc (and keeps trying to make me look too, which cuts into my WoW time!), so please help us (and quickly since the call could come any moment).
Any advice on specifics on what you liked or disliked from the point of view of a trip with an 8 year old, not very adventurous boy would be HUGELY appreciated! Considering this is about three years savings for this trip so Alex gets his one chance at having a Disney World dream come true, I’d like to make it our best possible for him.
Thank you all very much!
Edit based on comments – We should have included this in our original post. We definitely will have a car the entire time we are there (it is already completely paid for and we are going off property several times so that’s a done deal at this point). We know for hours of research how wonderful the Disney transportation is, but regardless, we will have a car and may choose to use it at times especially for our non-Disney days which are already planned. We will likely not use it for our Disney days, but don’t want to choose a hotel based simply on transportation concerns because we will have the choice of Disney options or our car.
Final edit and update: We did get the phone call from Disney that we were expecting, and were offered a different resort to choose from since ours was still going to be under construction. We have confirmed with Disney that we will be staying at the Polynesian at a nice garden room, and I have to tell you that we are really looking forward to it. With all that you folks have said, I think that this is going to be the best possible vacation we could hope for, and I do appreciate everything you’ve done to help guide us to that. Thank you, very much.