Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Disney's Vero Beach Resort : 2-Bedroom Lock Off Accessible w/ Roll-in Shower

Date of Visit: January 7-14, 2023

To try something different, we stayed at Disney's Vero Beach instead of a Walt Disney World resort for our annual family trip this year.

Mik and I stayed in the studio part of the lock-off, which was accessible with grab bars, but had a tub. Only having the roll-in shower in the one bedroom was not a big deal as we just need it once or twice a trip. Unfortunately, the layout of the studio bathroom was such that Mik could not use it on his own. This was partially due to the grab bar only being on the right side, but it was also due to the path into the bathroom being by the toilet so we could not leave his wheelchair next to the toilet like we usually do for him to have something else to hold on to.

The studio was also immediately disappointing in that it is the smallest studio or hotel room we've ever encountered. I cannot imagine how one would use the room if you needed to fold out the couch into a bed as there is barely enough of a path through the room as is including you have to move the chair to be in the way of other paths in order to maybe fit by the bed and go out on the patio.

The other major issue is that there is pretty much nowhere to unpack and put your things as there is just eight about shoe size drawers to put your clothes in the dresser under the TV and just a little more room in the nightstand between the couch and bed. Then there was no where to put suitcases, but at least we had packed in a bag that rolls up and could use the couch as the place for the storage container we use for food, etc. I guess we may have been able to have some space in the closet if we asked them to take away the vacuum and crib, but it was very shallow and wouldn't have been of use for us.

The one bedroom side was better, but also lacked storage for the living room. Although in this case you do have some room in the laundry closet and we found a storage chest in the bedroom that we could move to give some drawers and a place to put a suitcase.

The kitchen area for the studio was also rather small. I guess a non-accessible might have the microwave up that shelf, but as it did not the coffee pot ended up on the table making for even less surface area to put stuff.

The bathroom on the one bedroom side was better for Mik as the grab bar was on the left and he could use it. However, it was still an awkward set up with there barely being enough of a path between the sink and the shower. The sink being so close in front of the toilet also made it difficult to be able to help Mik without bumping your back on the sink.

The tub area of that bathroom was huge, though. Really seems they could have better used the space from this area to make the toilet area not such a hazard.

Mik did enjoy that the one bedroom only had carpet in the bedroom, so it was easy to roll around.

Mik also liked the huge TV in the living room. The design also gave a good amount of counter space and storage behind it in the kitchen, which was one area that did have adequate storage. In particular, we liked the fridge having ice and water in the door, although the water dispensing was extremely slow. We also had an issue with the light flickering every time we opened the fridge or freezer, but maintenance quickly fixed it once we remembered to report it on day three or so.

The dining room table was slightly disappointing to us as the circle shape made it hard to play Wingpsan. The light, however, can be a real hazard. On one of our last nights, Josh bumped it with his head when sitting down and the glass broke when it hit against another bulb. That was actually our third encounter with maintenance (the second had been fixing the toilet paper holder coming lose in the bathroom). Apparently, the lights breaking happens regularly as it probably the best example of the poor design choices here. Also, we had to throw away two Dole whips due to the potential for glass ending up in them and they had replacements sent up to us.

Mik mostly spent the trip in the room as he was not into the beach, pool, or the nature reserves we went to for birdwatching. However, he did enjoy taking a walk one day and reading the info signs about turtles and some area history on the main path between the buildings.

We also enjoyed taking the walkway that goes under the street to access a treasure trail (not accessible as it is sandy and has parts even I had to duck to get through) and sports facilities (basketball, soccer, beach volleyball, tennis). The walkway is fun because it has Peter Pan characters painted on the wall and during the day the speakers play "You Can Fly!"

As a non-park vacation, we thought we would actually cook in the room more than usual. However, instead we found ourselves enjoying the quick service for lunch and almost all dinners as they had several rotating dinner specials that appealed to us. We also enjoyed being able to get Mickey pretzels and Dole whips, especially the Key Lime. Mik was disappointed, though, that they did not have Mickey waffles. We also found that the staff got to know you more like when you go on a cruise, which is not something we've ever experienced at the Walt Disney World resorts (probably mainly because we just do not spend much time at the resort beyond our room there).

Overall the family enjoyed the trip as a less structured and more relaxing vacation than doing the parks has become. We found the activities at the resort were fun including origami, mini golf, and checking out DVDs. In particular, I also enjoyed walking around the nature area across the street. Nora really enjoyed the water slide competitions. One night, the beach at the resort was also a great place to be able to see a SpaceX launch.

Although, we did not particularly like the room design, we would like to return and may even do it next year.

Destination Info:

9250 Island Grove Terrace
Vero Beach, FL 32963

Friday, February 14, 2020

2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts

Date of Visit: January 17, 2020

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts has become probably our favorite festival, although  the only reason we like it slightly more than the Flower and Garden is that we have managed to attend most years by lucking out that it ends up at least partially during our annual family trip. This year we only managed to catch the first day of the festival as our last park day of our trip.

We started our trip through the festival with a stop at Joffrey's near Canada as it was open before the rest of World Showcase and I wanted to end up trying all the Latte and Donut pairings. In the end, this one (Impression Pairing - Blackberry Iced Latte with Blueberry donut) was my favorite mainly because of the donut.

In order to get as much in as possible, we were in line for the France booth when it opened at 11am. The Creme de Brie en Petit Pain ended up being our favorite. Mik also enjoyed the Tomato stuffed with ribs and we shared the molten chocolate cake. The macarons were a good snack for later that we picked up for others in our group, especially considering in the evening when we came back to Epcot for dinner we discovered many booths ran out of things by 6pm.

Next Mik had the Sushi Donut in Japan. He enjoyed it, but didn't feel like it was anything special other than the presentation, which actually made it harder for him to eat than normal sushi.

Mik enjoyed the Musical Float from the Fife & Drum Tavern in The American Adventure Pavilion.

He also enjoyed the red velvet donut that was part of my second latte and donut pairing (Baroque Pairing - white mocha latte and red velvet donut). At this point we were full and also had fastpasses to get to in Magic Kingdom.

After our fastpasses in Magic Kingdom, we returned to Epcot and started with my third latte & donut pairing (mocha latte and glazed donut).

For dinner, Mik didn't end up with any more festival food because what Mik wanted to try was sold out. I did, however, get my final latte and donut pairing (Modern Pairing - coconut iced latte and chocolate donut) and picked up our annual pass magnets.

Destination Info:
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Walt Disney World: Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village Accessible 2-Bedroom Villa

Date of Visit: January 11-18, 2020

This was out third time staying at Kidani for our family trip, but it was out first time getting a 2-Bedroom rather than a lock off. For the most part it is the same, however, there is some key differences that make it a little better and a little worse.

The kitchen and living room area is the same.

The bathroom when you first come in is also the same in that it is not really accessible, although it sort of has a roll under sink.

The master bedroom sleeping area is also the same.

The bathroom, however, was unexpectedly not accessible as we have never encountered an accessible room that didn't at least have the master bath as accessible. For us, it didn't matter and was definitely preferable to if it had been the only accessible bathroom, but also kind of disappointing to not have the flexibility and a big reason why a dedicated 2-bedroom is second from the bottom of our list of choices for our family vacation.

The other bedroom has two beds. This means less floor space for Mik as we're used to a studio and not needing the sofa as a bed so he ends up with plenty of floor space. As Dad joined us this year, it was nice to each have a bed and we were able to rearrange the suitcase bench to be by the desk and sort of give Mik his own area to the left of the television.

The bathroom for the second bedroom was the only truly accessible one as the toilet area had room for a wheelchair to roll up next to and grab bars.

The roll in shower was good for both regular and accessible use. However, I found it disappointing that the decor wasn't Lion King or as fun decor as the other two bathrooms.

Just like on the cruise, we are a fan of the change to larger toiletries even though that means we don't end up with toiletries for home anymore. However, sadly they didn't have it for the lotion. There still was a little bottle. It'd be nice if there was also a dispenser size for that, too, and not have to worry about running out of any of the toiletries, which we did use to have to worry about for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash since they don't restock except sometimes on the cleaning day in the middle of the weeklong stay with DVC.

The verandah and savannah view is the main thing we enjoy about Animal Kingdom Lodge, although we didn't spend as much time out here this year as we have on past trips. Having one large verandah instead of two separate ones when in the lock off was one difference that was better. However, we felt like we had less chairs, although I think we've felt that way for the verandahs at all the resorts we've stayed at on our family trip.

Overall we prefer the lock-off style 2 bedroom at Kidani, but still works for our family trip and definitely was the right choice for this particular year. In particular, Mik prefers the extra floor space we end up with in the studio area of the lock off. However, our overall favorite for the family trip is the 2-bedrooms at Boulder Ridge.

Destination Info:
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village
3701 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run

Date of Visit: January 15, 2020

Mik and I initially didn't go on Smuggler's Run as we weren't sure if it was too much of a thrill ride for us. Later in the trip, after the rest of the group was able to assure us it was worth trying, we decided try it.

Mik wasn't much into the queue, but only because it was right after we had done Rise of the Resistance and had been in the park over 9 hours. Later he realized it was the kind of experience we always feel like we miss when we do Star Tours because the wheelchair access for that ride skips the regular queue entirely and only gives a brief look down at it.

When you get to the front of the line, you are given cards with your role (pilot, gunner, or engineer). As there are only six per vehicle, our group had to split to two groups (5 and 2 paired with others).

We then waited for our color group to be called for our mission. This is interesting designed waiting area and as we had to wait about 15 minutes for the one spacecraft that is easier for transferring, we had plenty of time for playing/photos.

The ride is a simulator pod. I assume the middle aisle is smaller on the other pods and the reason we had to wait it that this one has a wider middle aisle to roll into and transfer to the ride. It is a very easy transfer as the seats don't have armrest to even have to move, although that then means there is on armrest. Again, after our Jimmy Fallon simulator experience we just don't see how this simulator couldn't have been designed as a non-transfer ride, especially considering the Rise of the Resistance has a simulator part that you can freely roam on.

The actual ride experience of a mission and working together is interesting and I actually enjoyed this Star Wars attraction. I was one of the engineers and had to press whatever buttons lit up. Mik was one of the gunners, which we actually did some trading of role cards for him as those that had been on before explained it was the easiest (at least if done on auto). He probably could have done engineer also, but it would have been harder for him to reach everything and enjoy the view part of the ride. He wouldn't mind doing either gunner or engineer now that's he's been on it, but he doesn't want to even try pilot as it seems hard to reach the controls as our dad had to reach over to push one button when needed for the five-year-old.

And the best part of the attraction, the elevator at the end. Not really as we actually enjoyed this attraction, but different themed elevators have been a favorite thing for us to discover ever since Mik was little and we used the ones to access the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. One of these days maybe we'll actually put together our list of favorites in order that we keep meaning to do.

Overall we really did enjoy the ride as it was like simulator game. In particular, it was amusing how our pilots (our dad and the five-year-old) ended up calling each other bad pilots and we were all yelling at our dad when the button needed to be pushed. While we really feel you could still have been a very fun non-transfer ride experience without the movement if they had done something like how the movement can be turned on or off for Winnie the Pooh, this is one of the very few transfer rides I can see us doing on the WDW trips Mik and I do on our own.

Destination Info:
Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run
Hollywood Studios
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Date of Visit: January 15, 2020

Experiencing everything in Galaxy's Edge was the main priority for Mik and pretty much our whole group except me for this year's family trip. We picked Wednesday as the easiest day for us to get to the park when it opened and have a chance at a boarding pass to get on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We did barely manage to get us all in the park a few minutes after park officially opened around 7am and ended up with a number that starting "boarding" around 2:15pm.

While I'm totally not into Star Wars and especially the too realness of interactions that happen in the new land, I do like this new concept for handling the line for a new attraction. The only issue with it was that we only had one chance to make it work this trip, which meant we had to just all go if we were going to do it instead of most going on Smuggler's Run first and then being able to give a real idea about if it was worth it to transfer Mik (or for us non-thrill people).

The first part of the attraction is going into a room as a large group and a hologram recruiting you for the resistance. Or maybe you're volunteering to join. I don't know Star Wars obviously and I honestly wasn't paying much attention to anything except trying to not get hit in the head again by Dad taking pictures.

Next you board a transport. This is a simulator type thing, but you can stand wherever you find a spot. There is a screen in front and back, but Dad ended up positioning Mik in the middle facing forward where people blocked the view. Thus, Mik found it an extremely annoying experience. It was like taking a metro ride in the middle of the "line" for an attraction rather than actually being a part of an attraction. Basically, it seems you had to know that you should try to get a place to actually experience this part and not be the stragglers loading last...

The transport gets captured or something and you become prisoners, I think.

I think this where we get lined up for processing as prisoners or something and then we get help from the Resistance and freed? Seriously, I'm clearly not the one that should be trying to explain this experience!

Now finally you get on the actual ride. Not sure if thee side of front row always opens that wide or if they made that happen to make the transfer easier, but it was a relatively easy transfer. Also, the way this ride is trackless seems to help allow for to you really take your time loading if needed.

I might not have understood the attraction of the ride, but Mik enjoyed the experience as did the rest of our group that was as much if not more into Star Wars as him.

Certainly not an attraction I would care to do again, especially without someone else transferring Mik, but I will admit that the attraction was impressive. As it really wasn't that much of a thrill ride, though, we would do again if the rest of the family wanted to on a future trip.

Basically, the only part that was a thrill was the drop at the end, which apparently Mik wasn't prepared for (to me it was obvious we were entering an "elevator") because he grabbed my arm and didn't even realize he had when I asked for my arm back when we were pulling up to the unloading area.

The end of the ride was a little confusing as the wheelchair wasn't there and they kept asking us to get out. You unload in a different spot so clearly the wheelchair has to be moved and it appears they did do that as it didn't take them long to grab it once they realized we needed it. Apparently, they are supposed to mark the vehicle or something when loading, though, so they know to bring it when you arrive to unload.

Destination Info:
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Hollywood Studios
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Friday, January 31, 2020

Legacy Vacation Club Kissimmee/Orlando: One Bedroom

Date of Visit: January 9-11, 2020

We ended up staying here as a way to use Dad's RCI points, which always are a pain to figure out how to use and even this use we weren't so sure was going to end up working. One problem was that the minimum stay for most of the Orlando area places was too long for this trip, but the bigger issue was that you can't book and know you're getting an accessible room. As we weren't really staying at the place long, this wasn't an absolute must except the two options we had to book didn't have elevators and all they allowed was calling two weeks after booking to put in a request for wheelchair accessible that wasn't actually a guarantee.

In the end, it worked out fine as the first floor request was honored and appeared to actually be handled as a guarantee. However, we found out that requesting a wheelchair accessible unit just means they put you on the first floor and not the ADA unit, which they only have one. Turned out that room had been assigned to a reservation that didn't need it and they actually did move reservations around and we did get it (and cleaning fee waived as it took so long to check in because of this), but would have preferred if they could just guarantee it when you book and not just get lucky we asked the right question when checking in and it happening to not actually be assigned by someone who needed it, especially as I could see that easily turning in to having kicked someone wrongly out of it.

The kitchen had an open layout.

The table was a bench style. I think it worked with Mik's chair at the end, but we didn't really have the need to use it with him.

Mik enjoyed the living room area and the hardwood throughout. For us, it worked, but really wonder how it would work if you actually needed to fold out the couch as there really isn't that much extra space for that table to go. Overall the living room area isn't really accessible with the amount of space the furniture takes up.

The bedroom had a good amount of space, though.

The bathroom worked for us, though it wouldn't really be what I'd expect to qualify as ADA. The cabinet could be moved if needed, which may allow enough room for a wheelchair to roll up next to toilet for transferring. The toilet paper roll being a moveable thing on the floor ended up quite annoying.

I liked the size of the roll in shower, though as often happens it does flood the bathroom. There also wasn't any seat, although that isn't an issue for us as Mik prefers to sit on the floor anyways. It is also awkward that the shelf in the shower is up quite high.

Overall it was a good place to stay a few nights while we went to Universal Studios before our week at Walt Disney World. Just not sure it's worth the risk of booking something like this again when it's not that hard or expensive to get a guaranteed accessible room at a hotel instead.

Destination Info:
Legacy Vacation Club Kissimmee/Orlando
2800 N Poinciana Blvd
Kissimmee, FL 34746