Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Soarin'

Date of Visit: January 10, 2014

Previously we have always avoided going on Soarin' at Epcot because it just seems wrong that it is flying over Calofornia and your not at Disneyland/Disney's California Adventure.  Since we didn't really have any rides we wanted to use our Fastpass+ selections on, we decided to finally give it a try while also trying out the Fastpass+ with our Magic Bands for the first time.

Overall it was not bad.  It is pretty much the same, but the queue is super boring. I don't know if the regular queue has anything interesting, but the Fastpass one certainly doesn't.  Fastpass is the only way we do it at California and at least there you still walk through the California Aviation Hall of Fame. Of course, we would have thought that odd to have hear, but really thought there would still be something.

While Soarin' remains one of the easiest transfer rides to do with Mik and now that he is big transferring to rides is something we don't do much except these easy ones. However, it just is not the same as doing it in California and we probably won't do it in Florida again unless they ever change the movie to be Soarin over Florida.

Destination Info:
Soarin'
Epcot
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom - Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid

Date of Visit: January 9, 2014

While this ride has been open our past couple trips to Walt Disney World, we have always skipped it because the line is long and we have enjoyed it regularly at Disney's California Adventure.  This trip we decided to try it out at the Magic Kingdom finally because we could choose it as one of our Fastpass+ options.  In the end, though, we got to the park for 8 a.m. Extra Magic Hours and just went through the regular queue instead of waiting over an hour for our Fastpass+ time.

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little MermaidUnder the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

We really enjoyed the queue and actually would not have minded if there had been a wait, as there is a lot to see and it's nicely themed for the ride.  We only got to just walk straight through it, though, since the only wait was after we got to the front and were directed to the wheelchair area to wait for the wheelchair accessible vehicle to come around.

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little MermaidUnder the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

For the most the ride is exactly the same as at Disney's California Adventure.  However, there is one huge difference.  The wheelchair vehicle is actually a clam like the rest of the vehicles except it does not have a tall back.  It did seem roomier than the accessible vehicle at Disney's California Adventure, but we really like the King Triton's chariot theming of that one better (also, have heard that one referred to as the wave vehicle).  This Magic Kingdom one just ends up looking like an odd clam.  Overall same ride experience, though, and it is nice that they can efficiently load wheelchairs and only slow down the ride rather than have to stop it.
Magic Kingdom
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom - A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures ofthe Seven SeasDate of Visit: January 11, 2014

A Pirate's Adventure is something I had wanted to do on our December trip, but forgot to try out since we were busy with the holiday parties (Mickey's Very Merry Christmas and D23 Holiday Splendor).  When we were doing Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom at the cinema on Main Street a cast member asked if we had tried it and described it to us, which not only reminded me I wanted to try it out, but got Mik interested in it.

We did it right after we got to the Magic Kingdom around park opening and it ended up being a good time to do it with not too many people around in Adventureland.  You start by enlisting in a building past the Pirate's of Caribbean ride (almost in Frontierland).  We thought it was funny they wanted to make sure you knew it was not the ride when you entered the queue, as apparently people often enter thinking it is a ride.

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures ofthe Seven Seas

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures ofthe Seven Seas
When you enlist you get a magic talisman that is used to begin your adventure and activate the different symbols you have to locate on your treasure hunt. There are five different maps and after you put your talisman by one of the screens it tells you which map to pick up as well as what symbol to go to first.
A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures ofthe Seven Seas
We ended up only doing one adventure.  It had us find three different locations/symbols.  At each one when you out your talisman to the symbol it told part of the story and then lit up the symbol of where to go next until the end it told you to return to where you enlisted if you want to search for more treasure.
A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures ofthe Seven Seas
Overall it was fun to see it activate different things, especially the skeleton coming out of the water at the end.  It reminded Dad and I of the different adventures we did when we stayed at Aulani that led to us activating different things including making the volcano erupt and the lobby floor light up.  Mik seemed to think it was okay, but the very first symbol we activated was a gun and it made a loud gunshot sound that totally surprised us and leading Mik to not really like the adventure due to him not liking loud noises.  At the second spot, it was a cannon and he made sure to cover his ears before we activated it and since he was ready it didn't bother him.  Mik did say that some other trip he may be interested in doing more and Dad and I most definitely will.

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures ofthe Seven Seas

Destination Info:
A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas

Magic Kingdom
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Our First Trip with Magic Bands

Magic BandsDate of Visit: January 8-12, 2014

Our Walt Disney World Marathon weekend trip was the first time we got to try out the Magic Band technology.  I liked them from the start because we were able to choose our colors and actually add our annual pass to it easily before we left.

The Magic Band is great for when entering the room, as you don't have to dig out your key to the world card and it is hands free.  It was especially useful this trip since we were on the Club level at Animal Kingdom villas and needed it to take the elevator to our floor.

Mik found it as much trouble as ever for entering the theme parks.  He did not have too much trounble holding it up to the Mickey, but we did have to make sure we went to the ones that were on the same side as the hand he was wearing it on because he couldn't reach across himself and put it up to it.  They had to reset his fingerprint every other time, though, as it never matched since he is unable to get his finger to consistently be on the reader.  It is not that big a deal, but kind of annoying they recommend putting someone else's finger on it instead because that would lead to just as much trouble since some trips Dad and I switch up who takes him to the park and then you don't have the matching finger and have to reset anyways.  Bottom line Mik wishes they did it by photo like they do at Disneyland, but now that all passes work with the new technology and the parks are turnstile free the wait for someone to come do an override is just a few extra seconds usually.

Magic Bands

The other issue Mik had with the Magic Bands was that he didn't like the feel of it.  That we fixed by purchasing a fabric band that it fits in.  He especially liked that because we found some Star Wars ones

Magic Bands

Dad and I enjoyed adding Sorcerer Mickey charms I bought in a 3 pack.

Overall Dad and I like the Magic Bands.  It was especially good for the marathon because it was much easier to run with than a key to the world card, which he would have needed to get back up to the room if he didn't have the magic band.  However, Mik's magic band began to drive me nuts by the end because he kept ending up playing with it and causing it to become undone.  I'm not worried about losing it in general because he always has annual pass for the park and is with us to get back in room, but if certainly will not put charging privileges on his in the future due to it being easy for him to lose, although even to charge one would still need to know your pin, so mainly would just be a minor inconvenience to lose.

Destination Info:
Walt Disney World

Lake Buena Vista, FL

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas: Kilimanjaro Club at Jambo House

Date of Visit: January 8-13, 2014

The Kilimanjaro Club with its complimentary food and beverage offerings throughout the day was definitely the highlight of our stay at the Animal Kingdom Villas - Jambo House.  It was particularly convenient with our room being just two doors down from it.  The only problem we had with it was that only the tables nearest the lobby overlook were tall enough for Mik to roll under and even those he could not roll all the way up to due to the large center post.

Kilimanjaro Club

Mostly the table thing was not a problem as usually one of the three were available, especially when we went to breakfast right at 7 a.m.  However, there were times when it was crowded and the only option was other tables, but we mainly only noticed it at dessert time and walking by during the later breakfast hours (around 8:30/9).  For dessert, we just ended up bringing them back to the room.  Breakfast would have been annoying if we had to do that, but since we like eating early it was always quite empty and we had a choice of table.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club

Sunrise Offerings (Macheo) and Adventurous Awakenings (Miamko) - They start serving coffee and juice at 6:30 a.m. and then breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  Mik loved the croissants, as that is what he usually gets in the parks for breakfast.  He said they were smaller than in the park, but since you can get as many as you like it does not matter.  They also have other pastries, bagels, oatmeal, quinoa, cereals, and fruit.  There is also yogurt in the beverage fridge, which is also there all day.

Safari Snacks (Vitafunio) - From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. they have a variety of snacks out including granola bars, yogurt covered pretzels, spiced nuts, trail mix, goldfish, and kettle chips.

Chai (Afternoon Tea) - Tea time is from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Of course, there is tea during this time.  There are also scones, cookies, and biscuits.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro ClubAnimal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro ClubAnimal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club

Twilight Offerings (Kisikusiku) - This wine and cheese evening offering was probably our favorite, although dessert was always good, too.  This offering is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and was good enough to be dinner for us every evening we were able to be at the resort for it.  The cheeses were only okay, but the hors d'oeurves were great, especially the spoons with shrimp and the salmon cakes.  They also have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over in the kids area.

Club Level DessertsAnimal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro ClubAnimal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club

Evening Indulgences (Rehema) - Desserts and cordials are available from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.  There were always sugar, chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin cookies as well as brownies and rice crispy treats.  The other things seemed to rotate.  These include a pineapple upside down cake, chocolate and raspberry dessert, pumpkin cheesecake, and blueberry dessert.

Destination Info:

Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Jambo House
2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-8410

Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Jambo House Club Level Accessible 1-Bedroom Villa

Date of Visit: January 8-13, 2014

The 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend was the first time we planned out a DVC stay 11 months out.  We have done some non-home resort exactly 7 months out reservations (mainly Mik's 18th birthday at Disney's Grand Californian), but mostly we have not been too picky and have even booked just a month out like when we extended our 2013 spring training vacation to be able to see the Flower & Garden Festival and a D23 event.  The marathon is something Dad has been interested in and it seemed the best type of trip to do a club level stay.

One Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom Suite

The entry and kitchen is nice and open.  We are not into the drawer style freezers (we have one that came with our new house last year and we do not even use it there).  Mik finds side by side the best, but drawer makes more sense than a top freezer accessibility wise.  Mik said if he was actually going to use the kitchen he would have moved the trashcan and recycling bin elsewhere like by the door, but since we had the breakfast, snacks, cheese, and dessert times with the concierge club it was not like the kitchen got used by anyone this trip.

One Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom Suite

The living room area has a sleeper sofa and chair.  Also, small dining table with two chairs and a bench.  The lighting is not really adequate except when your at the table or right by the lamps.  It would be nice if the fans were also overhead lighting.  We enjoyed the box of chocolates that were there on check in.

One Bedroom Suite

Laundry is located at end of hallway between the bathroom and bedroom.  The accordian style doors are okay.  The laundry machine certainly seemed loud when Dad had to dry his clothes (see bathroom issue below), but perhaps that is because I'm just used to having a real door to close between the washer and dryer and my bedroom that makes it barely noticeable being right next to them at home all the time.

One Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom Suite

The bathroom has a sink area that can be separate from the toilet and shower area.  The sliding doors for the bathroom areas are convenient and easy to use.  Mik liked that he could roll up to the sink area, but found the sink somewhat tough to use as it was too far back from the edge.  The extra toiletries of mouthwash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and after sun relief are a nice perk that I assume is just for the club level.  The funny thing is that for once I actually remembered to pack the travel bottle of aloe that we bought after a WDW trip a couple years ago and have kept with the travel toiletries since then, but I do not always dig down enough in the basket to remember to pack it.  It is also the first time Mik brought his mouthwash on a trip.

One Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom Suite

Mik found the grab bars good enough that he could almost use them to get on the toilet from the ground, except the floor was slippery at least when he had socks on.  It was also not helpful that they put all the towels hanging on them.  The bathroom could sure use some regular towel bars or at least a couple more hooks for hanging towels.

At first look the roll in shower seemed great.  The bench was even located with the grab bar on the left, which works best for Mik.  Also, the shower head was actually well-mounted and useable for a regular shower, too, which is not always the case as in our Saratoga Springs experience.  The first time Dad used the shower, though, he flooded the bathroom.  Now it just ending up in the toilet area would not have been too unusual, but it ended up in the sink area as well and worse Dad's clothes were on the floor there.  Good thing there is a dryer in the room because Dad did not bring enough clothes this trip in the first place because he forgot to pack shorts.

We ended up being able to avoid it from happening again by putting towels on the floor between the edge of the shower and the door between the sink area.  Not too big a deal in the end, although was quite disappointing that we told the concierge we needed it mopped and extra towels and got back hours later to nothing done by housekeeping, but at least at that point he personally got us extra towels and it dried to not needing mopping.  Interestingly, when housekeeping did come later they ended up taking the extra towels, but magically two days later they actually made a dam of towels by the shower for us.

One Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom SuiteOne Bedroom Suite

The bedroom part of the villa worked out well for Mik and me with him having a nice area between the bed and the balcony door to be able to spread out and use his laptop on the floor like he likes to do.  The low bars for hanging stuff in the armoire is a good accessible feature even if we did not need it.

Mik's one issue with the bedroom is that there was just barely enough room for Mik to roll between the bed and the TV to get out to the balcony.  He ended up not minding too much in the end, but said if we had brought his power chair he would have been annoyed because he certainly could not have used it to get out to the balcony through the bedroom.  Thus, he ended up being kind of happy that his power chair was still stuck at home waiting on parts for repair.

Access is technically not an issue from the living room, except we never folded up the sofa bed during our stay, which made that way out to the balcony totally unaccessible.  Of course, we would have just put it away daily if that was the only way out to the balcony, as he did enjoy going out there to see the animals almost daily.  (Update: Later realized the living room entry to balcony actually has a lip to go over with the way it is a sliding door versus an actual door from the bedroom, so actually more of a hassle than just having to have the sofa bed closed up).

Savannah ViewSavannah View

Destination Info:

Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Jambo House
2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-8410

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