Walt Disney World Resort September 2008




Walt Disney World


Saturday, September 20, 2008 to Sunday, September 28, 2008


Dan and Jon.

Pre-trip Report:

Tomorrow morning Jon and I depart for Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for 9 days!! Yay! Woohoo!!

And, at time of writing, at this time tomorrow we will be in the Magic Kingdom! Woo!! 

We have 9 Advance Dining Reservations for "sit down" restaurants, 6 of which are Character meals!! 
We are staying on site at Disney's Pop Century Resort. We have Free Dining Plan for the duration of our trip. 
We are attending 2 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party's (Tues 23rd and Fri 26th). 

We also have an exclusive Passholder screening of the new Tinker Bell movie!! We are seeing it one month before it's general release! That is next Sunday at 10am in the Magic Kingdom, in Exposition Hall. 

Jon also discovered that there are some special fireworks tomorrow night over Seven Seas Lagoon. Some pyrotechnics company is coming in and holding a special event! 

It works out that we see: 
Wishes x3 
HalloWishes x2 
Fantasmic x1 
Dreams Come True Parade x3 
SpectroMagic x4 
Boo To You Parade x4 
Jammin' Jungle Parade x2 
IllumiNations x2 
Block Party Bash x2 
Plus the special fireworks tomorrow night. 

For those of you interested, our dining reservations are at the following restaurants: 
Le Cellier (Canada, EPCOT) 
Donald's Safari Breakfast, Tusker House Restaurant (Africa, Animal Kingdom) - Character meal 
Tusker House (Africa, Animal Kingdom) 
Liberty Tree Tavern (Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom) - Character meal 
Crystal Palace (Central Plaza, Magic Kingdom) - Character meal 
Chef Mickey's (Disney's Contemporary Resort) - Character meal 
Yak and Yeti (Asia, Animal Kingdom) 
Princess Storybook Dining, Restaurant Akershus (Norway, EPCOT) - Character meal 
1900 Park Fair (Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa) - Character meal 

So, it just leaves me to say. See you all when I get back!!! *Jumps up and down very excitedly!* Lol. 

Trip Report:

Staying at: Disney's Pop Century Resort for 8 nights / 9 days
Method of transport: Flight from Dulles, VA, then Disney's Magical Epress (DME) from Orlando MCO to Resort

All my pictures from this trip can be found here on my Flickr page. You can also access my Flickr at any point by clicking on any of the pictures posted within this trip report.

So here it is! The moment you have all been waiting for!
Last month Jon and I made our second trip this year together to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
We stayed on site at the Pop Century.
This was only the second time staying on site at WDW for me - and the second time at the Pop Century. This time we ended up in the 1950's section of the resort. There was a giant jukebox and larger than life Lady and the Tramp statues.
This trip was slightly different to the one in June in that on this trip we had the Disney Dining Plan included for free. Jon had it on a bounceback offer from last year.
This meant that although it isn't always better value when you purchase it, we were actually getting free food, and we were able to make some reservations for some pretty neat restaurants.
We managed 6 Character meals this trip! And covered all bases - between those 6 Character meals, at least one was a breakfast, lunch or dinner. On top of those we had 3 other table service meals at some nice places too.
Because this was a 9 day trip, and we did SO much, instead of breaking it down day-by-day like I have done in the past, I am going to try and break this report down by theme or subject, let's see how that goes... LOL
Let's start with those Character meals.
We had the following reservations:
Donald's Safari Breakfast at Tusker House, Disney's Animal Kingdom - breakfast
Goofy's Liberate you Appetite at Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom - dinner
Crystal Palace Buffet with Character, Magic Kingdom - breakfast
Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort - lunch
Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus, Norway at EPCOT - lunch
1900 Park Fare, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - dinner

For the most part they were all new to me. I had had the Crystal Palace Breakfast before in June, but the rest I had never been to.

Crystal Palace is visited by characters from Winnie the Pooh, and is more or less guaranteed to be Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet. The food is buffet style and is pretty good. All the characters make it round to your table in about an hour or so, and at about 20min intervals they have a "Pooh-rade" around the dining room, then go in for a quick break. When the characters go in they always return to the same place they left off - so have no fear of them missing you out. This applies to all character meals.
Donald's Safari Breakfast is at the Tusker House Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom. It is very popular, and very noisy. We ended up on a table right in the middle of all the "action", and it was crazy to say the least. The food is buffet style, and consists of regular buffet fare, as well as international dishes. Characters at this meal were Donald, Daisy, Mickey Mouse and Goofy.

I can't really say much more about it, except is was cool to see the characters in different outfits than normal, but overall it is a very busy, noisy place. The restaurant is also dark, and doesn't lend itself to taking decent character pictures. Like the Crystal Palace, the characters do a mini parade of sorts at certain intervals then go for a quick rest before returning to table visiting duties. We were there long enough on this visit to see the characters visit our tables twice, so we managed to get some overall nice pictures.

Goofy's dinner at the Liberty Tree was interesting. We went on a Halloween Party night (which I will discuss shortly). The characters normally wear colonial style dress, but on this occasion their outfits were modified slightly to include some Halloween elements - such as a mask.
The Cast Members also wore Haunted Mansion costumes as opposed to what ever it is they normally wear. They also wore face makeup. 

Overall it was kinda neat and added to the fun Halloween festivities. The dining room is very dark though, and is not an good place to get pictures. The characters seem to work around in a more sporadic format too, much to my annoyance when one of the chipmunks refused to have his picture taken again when the first one came out blurry! He insisted he had to for some bizarre reason leave and go to the other dining area. I asked a CM to assist us in getting another shot, and not have him walk away. The situation was resolved, but it was odd. At this meal we saw Chip and Dale, Goofy, Minnie Mouse and Pluto. Overall the food was pretty good. Served family style (kinda like a buffet, but they bring it to your table). I would say that it is a very busy restaurant and very noisy. Fun to see the characters in different outfits, but I'm not sure I would hurry back... which brings me to one last point. This restaurant is suffering that exact fate as of January. No-body will be able to hurry back as the character element is being axed - so I am glad we ate there when we did, to get full benefit of it and to experience it.

Now we move to Chef Mickey's. I have to say overall that the food at Chef Mickey's isn't great. There is limited choice in my opinion. Currently also the Contemporary is undergoing VERY extensive refurbishment works. We had the lovely sound of some power tool throughout most of our meal!

Characters are dressed quite appropriately in chef outfits which is cute. Once again they do the whole parade thing. The food is buffet style. The restaurant is overall pretty bland too. Very "white". I'm not a huge fan of the Contemporary Resort itself, the only benefit I ever see is the fact you can walk to the Magic Kingdom. But, that said, it was an enjoyable experience. The day we were there for lunch it was totally dead, and we managed to see the characters in plenty of time, and then some. There isn't really much more I can say about it. Overall an enjoyable experience. Characters at Chef Mickey's were Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald.
The next place we at with characters was the Akershus at EPCOT. 

This was again, an "interesting" experience. For a start, when you stand outside waiting, and you observe the crowds, you actually dread going in. You think that this has to be the most craziest place to eat ever. There are a bazillion families with girls 5 and under all wanting to meet Cinderella and Aurora. But somehow they line moves pretty fast. From what Jon and I could work out, they seem to let people in the restaurant in waves. Like there will be 50 people outside, then suddenly everyone's tables are ready and there is no line.
Once inside you have to line up to have your first character meet and greet. I guess they must rotate which princess it is, but on our visit it was Belle. There is a PhotoPass photographer who takes your picture - but they do NOT take your PhotoPass card, nor do they give you a new one. There is a reason for this. The PhotoPass picture is printed in-restaurant and given to you at your table for "free" (bearing in mind it is $30+ to eat here). But the cool thing is that they give you one large print of the photo, plus a few smaller ones, then actually then give you a PhotoPass code with it. This PhotoPass code you can then enter on the website along with all other ones from your trip and order, print and share them as you any others. So it's actually pretty cool.

The food is interesting. It is very good food, but the style is interesting. Starters / appetizers are buffet style. Then once you have had that, your main meal is table service, with a full menu. Desert is then family style, where by they bring a selection to your table "buffet style" for you ad your party to share.
I have to say we muct have been very lucky the day we were there as we managed to get to see all the princesses within about 20mins of being seated. We must have caught the rotation at just the right time. Princesses that frequent the dining room are Jasmine, Aurora, Cinderella and Ariel.
Overall I liked the Akershus and would probably consider it again.
The final Character Dining experience we had was 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This is actually a Cinderella and Co. character meal. It is buffet stlye and the food choices are limited, but rather good. Overall, the restaurant is quite small, and is very dark. 

Considering it is one of their "high end" places to eat, it was pretty basic. But, you do get to meet Prince Charming - about the only place outside of the Halloween parties that you can meet him in WDW - Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, and the whacked out stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella.

Overall it is a fun experience, the Tremaine's are hilarious and liven up the dining experience for sure! As with all the character meals, there is an interval, and Prince Charming and Cinderella dance around the dining room, then invite others to join them - then go for a break.

Phew, so that's character meals covered!

Next to the other dining experiences!
The last 3 full service places we ate at were:
Le Cellier, EPCOT - lunch
Tusker House, Animal Kingdom - dinner
Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom - lunch

Le Cellier at Canada in EPCOT is a small restaurant that serves high end cuisine in an intimate setting. The food is very good - but like with all expensive places, you don't get a lot! Fancy restaurants always seem to think people just eat a carrot and a piece of meat! In any case, the desert was awesome. I have no idea what the name of it was but was marshmallows, ice cream and some chocolate sandwich thing.

I would say for the money it is ok. Although overall it was a nice place - it is VERY expensive - and almost impossible to get a reservation for. But for the amount of food you get, it is very overpriced.
It is nicely themed though but incredibly small for such a popular place - probably one of the smallest full service Disney restaurants I've ever seen.
Tusker House for dinner was somewhat more tame than breakfast. We ate there after park closing - the park closed at 5pm and our reservation was for 5pm lol.
So all in all it was a nicer experience. The food as per breakfast was buffet style. The restaurant overall is pretty big, and well themed for the African setting.
Yak and Yeti over in Asia at Animal Kingdom was a new experice for both Jon and I, and it is more or less new to the park too. It is actually owned and operated by Landry's - which also own the Rainforest Cafe's and the new T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney.

This now makes their 4th restaurant on property, and the 2nd in the Animal Kingdom. A word to the wise - AP holders get discounts so be sure to ask! I know it's 15% at the retail store in the park, not sure about the restaurant -we were dining plan remember ;)

The restaurant is very well themed. It is still brand new of course too, which helps with the upkeep. The food is AWESOME. I can't tell you what I had (I really should start writing these things down lol - I do everything else, but never think of writing my menu choices!), but we do have pictures, and all I can say is that this place ROCKS. And it in the dining plan too, which is great considering it isn't a Disney place.

So I guess that's dining covered. We of course did grab snacks and drinks from other places throughout our stay, but what more can you say about diet coke and a hamburger? They are pretty much the same resort wide :)

On Tuesday 23rd September and Friday 26th September we attended the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties held at the Magic Kingdom on those nights. 

During the Halloween events you can meet "rare" characters, regular characters in special festive attire, go trick or treating, see special shows, parades and fireworks, and have all round great fun! 
I had done a MNSSHP once before, way back in October 2006. I only did it the once, and on that night I didn't stay for the full event (sadly). 
But this time round with Jon, it was mega all out see-all-do-all stay til the end crazy fun!! LOL (as it always is in any case!! LOL) 

We managed to see all four presentations of Mickey's Boo To You Parade during to 2 parties, see both presentations of HalloWishes, and watched the Villains Mix and Mingle twice - one of which time we waited for the meet and greet after to meet the Villains. 

Strangely enough the Tuesday night was busier than the Friday night, but between the 2 nights we managed to see a great deal. We mainly focused on those things that you could not normally see during park hours - the parade, fireworks and special character meet and greets. 

They had some very special characters out during the Halloween parties, here's the list of all the ones we met over the 2 nights: 
Tarzan and Terk 
Jane Porter and Terk 
Clown Eeyore 
Super Sleuth Pooh 
Pirate Tigger 
Butterfly Piglet 
Queen of Hearts - twice 
Snow White and ALL the Seven Dwarfs 
Halloween Witch Minnie 
Halloween Count Mickey 
Cinderella and Prince Charming 
Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip 
White Rabbit 
Cruella DeVil 
Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, The Racoon Twins, Slightly and Cubby 
Abu and Genie 
Tweedledee and Tweedledum 
Candy Factory Goofy 

Jon and I know some Cast Members in WDW and were lucky enough on the second night to get our picture taken with Peter Pan, Wendy Darling and the Lost Boys! The Lost Boys are not out in the parks, ever. You can only normally find them in the Halloween Parade and the now discontinued Enchanted Adventured Parades at select nights throughout the year
We managed to pick up most of the special Halloween merchandise - you may notice on the second night in the pics I am wearing the MNSSHP 2008 t-shirt, bought at the first night on Tuesday :)
Part 4 - Everything Magical
Don't forget you can check out all my trip pics here :)

So we have covered Halloween and dining. This leads us to the final part of this trip report that covers all over happenings during this trip :)

Let me start with EPCOT, as 3 very special things happened there during our trip.
On one day we decided to go on Journey Into Imagination. When we walked thru the doors we were greeted by a handful of Dream Squad Cast Members! They gave us Dream Fastpasses for our day at EPCOT! Woo!

This is the first time in 3 trips during the Year of a Million Dreams promotion that I have win anything. The actual thing we won was pretty worthless to us on that day at that moment as we had done everything we wanted, and was going to another park, but the fact we finally won something is cool :)
Besides, makes a nice little free souvenir!

The following day we went into Mouse Gear and there was a CM there with somesort of poster board, and on it was a drawing. Basically it was lots of Disney characters all mashed together in one big picture. I can't really explain it, but basically you had to find which ever characters that the CM instructed you to. We in the end found about 15 characters I guess. We were then asked our names and presented with Magical Moments certificates :D Again, this is the first time I had ever received a Magical Moment, so I was very happy!

We then proceeded to go meet Mexican Donald over at the Mexico Pavillion, where we got him to sign our certificates :D
The final "special" thing we did at EPCOT was to get to ride Segways for free!! We were fortunate enough one day just to happen by Innoventions, and discovered a group of people riding them around in the Innoventions building! Of course, we couldn't pass up that opportunity!

Overall it is fairy easy to ride a Segway, and is a lot of fun :)

We had been lucky enough to secure a place (free place at that!) for the Tinker Bell Movie Passholder premiere before our trip. It was taking place on the second weekend of our stay. We went along to the Magic Kingdom on our last Sunday. The event was held at Exposition Hall in the Magic Kingdom (on Main Street USA).
When we entered the back area of the store we were greeted by Cast Members and were transported into Tinker Bell's world! 

We were given free snacks and drinks. Before the actual movie we got to see a sneak peak at the full lengt music video for the movie. Then the movie itself followed. 

Overall the movie was very good, and I think they did a good job of what could have been a potential disaster - Tinker Bell speaks for the first time ever.
After the movie we were introduced to the director, producer and screenwriter. 

They talked a bit about the movie and the creative process.
Then we had a small talk by an Imagineer working on the new Pixie Hollow project in Toontown! We saw exclusive concept art and told some interesting facts...
When Pixie Hollow opens at the end of the month with the release of the movie, Guests will be transported to the world of the Fairies - literally. In order to keep with the idea that you can only hear Tink speak if you're a fairy, and given her diminutive size, as Guests line up to meet the Fairies, the scenery will gradually get slarger and larger... Making Guests feel as though they are shrinking. Finally by the time you meet the Fairies you are their size :)
Also out of the 5 Fairies  Tinker Bell, Fawn, Rosetta, Silvermist and Iridessa, it is likely that only any given three will be out meeting at any one time - and the lines are expected to be long...
Were then introduced to the Chief Magical Officer, who kept the audience amused with a quiz while something else magical happened...
The actual Fairies had arrived and were ready to greet Guests as they left the theater! And on top of that it was all FIVE of them!

This is literally a one time EVER thing - when the Fairies arrive in Pixie Hollow you will only ever see three at any one time - and they WILL be seperate meets, NOT together!! We were allowed to meet them, get pictures with them and of them, and had a PhotoPass picture taken with them too - which when you order has a special exclusive border on it! :D
Finally, when we exited you could meet the director, producer and screenwriter in person, chat to them briefly - and get their autographs on a glossy photo of them - and they weren't presigned - they asked you your name and signed them personally for you!

As we exited we were given an exclusive Tink and the Fairies cup - like the plastic ones you get at drinks stands in the parks, and a small light up Tink "cup clip" (kinda attaches to the cup and lights up).

Overall we had an awesome trip. We met somewhere in the region of 150 characters, had 2 Halloween parties, Tink movie premiere, free dining, 6 character meals, rode Segways - yes, it was AWESOME!! :D

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Pictures of Walt Disney World Resort September 2008