Sunday, January 21, 2024

Disney's Vero Beach Resort: 3 Bedroom Beach Cottage Wheelchair Accessible

Date of Visit: January 6 to 13, 2024 

Since Mik and I have not been doing our one week trips in a studio for years and we did not do any other DVC trips in 2023, we had extra points to splurge on the family vacation this year. Of course, we really wanted to use the points on concierge at our home resort of Animal Kingdom Lodge, but when the waitlist had not come through at 7 months out, we booked the 3 bedroom beach cottage at Disney's Vero Beach. With Mik and I still not wanting to spend the money to go to the Florida parks (saving to go to Disneyland, which we prefer instead) and enjoying the trip last year except the small room, it probably should have been our first choice anyways.

The accessible cottage has a ramp off to the one side for getting up to the porch and entry, which was also helpful for the luggage cart and stroller.

The front porch of the cottage has a swing and two rocking chairs.

The umbrella was a useful unexpected item by the door.

The stairs to the upper level are right inside the door. The location makes sense, but the rather full wall of windows make it kind of an odd set up. To the right is a lift to be able to access the second floor for those that cannot do stairs. It was also helpful for getting the full cooler and food bins upstairs.

Under the stairs there is a closet where all the cleaning stuff (vacuum, mop, broom) was stored. There was also an open area that was good for leaving shoes as well as the stroller.

The laundry closet is large leaving room to store stuff. If it wasn't for the utility access door, it would seem it was designed for side by side machines like Hilton Head had. This was one of the most useful laundry machine we've had a DVC in that had a large capacity. However, the controls on the top was horrible in that I could barely reach them and certainly makes no sense for an accessible unit. Considering that they could not just swap out the oven because it was an accessible unit, it seems odd they do not have a laundry machine with lower controls in here.

The bedroom on the right was one of the ones with two queen beds. This one was awkward in that the path to the bathroom was very narrow by the bed.

Bathroom accessed through that room.

Access to the back porch from bedroom.

After the lack of storage last year, definitely appreciated that there was space in all the rooms to unpack. They also have power in them.

The middle bedroom is the master with the king bed and also the only accessible bathroom. Mik enjoyed that there was plenty of floor space for him.

The bathroom connected to the master was decent sized. The layout was okay, but overall it did not really work out for Mik.

We were surprised that it actually had a roll in shower as the booking description said accessible beach cottage with tub. The design was decent in that the wall helped keep the water from spraying out and while the mat did get wet, it did not end up everywhere like sometimes happens.

Mik found it impossible to get on the toilet himself with this set up. I think it is because while he has grab bars on both sides at home, I notice he mostly uses the one on the other side than this set up. He said it was because the toilet was too close to the wall and he could not turn, which kind of makes no sense because his at home are closer to toilet, but it may be that he needs more space when he has to turn from this side.

His wheelchair could be left next to the toilet for him to have something to hold on that side. Then it was annoyingly in the way of accessing the sink for others since that is where it was mostly kept.

The bathroom also had a tub with grab bars and two shower heads. Since there is only one accessible cottage, it is nice that the accessible bathroom provides both options to fit more needs/preferences. Also, this is a good option if you do not need the roll in shower to avoid the potential of too much water on the floor from the roll in shower.

The third bedroom on the left also had two queen beds, but it had a better layout that provided a reasonable sized path between the bed and the hall to the bathroom.

The bathroom for this bedroom also had an entry from the hallway.

All of the bedrooms had doors to access the back porch. Since they have bushes to block the light for the turtles on the beach, there is not much of a view from this porch, but it does provide some good seating that is less likely to end up wet than the upstairs porches.

The living room, dining, and kitchen are upstairs. There are actually some drawers and shelves in the TV unit so I could put my stuff away as the one using the sofa bed. The amount of seating, though, seemed way too little for a place that slept 12 as it is just a regular couch and a chair and not even an ottoman type table that you could sit on that some places have. Certainly unexpected when from what I remember of when we ended up with the 3 bedroom in Aulani there seemed to be more seating in the living room area, although that time we did not need it being only 4 of us and this time we had 8 adults, a kid, and a baby.

While the table also did not have enough chairs, it was at least big enough to seat everyone once we brought in chairs from outside. The lights above the table could be appreciated here with the ceiling being high enough that there was no way Josh could bump them and cause Dole whips to be ruined by glass (see last year's post).

Most importantly, it was big enough to easily play Wingspan.

There is also some high top seating at the counter, which was also a good place to put the food for serving dinner.

The upstairs entry to the lift is next to the top of the stairs.

The kitchen was a decent layout for the most part. The fridge being next to the wall is annoying in that it does not open all the way, which I think may be even more of an issue for someone in a wheelchair. The bar area with the utensils was a good way for more cabinet space to store things low, although it was awkward that because the drawers were small the utensils were split between three drawers.

The first day we could not find a cutting board and we're glad that we had happened to pack one for making sandwiches in the car, which we actually did not even end up doing. That night Dad found the cutting board when he went to put the fish in the oven. He had not checked it for stuff before preheating. It is not surprising that there were pans in there, but it was surprising to find the cutting board had been under the pans on the first shelf. Luckily there was a pan on the lower shelf that caught most of the melted cutting board. Some of it got on the bottom, though, and it took maintenance at least an hour to clean it out. They said if it had been a regular room they would have just replaced the oven because I guess they have extra ovens, but not ADA ones.

The porch outside the kitchen had two lounge chairs and a table with chairs.

This porch was not all that accessible with a large trip hazard threshold.

The threshold out to the porch with the ocean view was accessible, though.

This porch also had lounge chairs and a table with chairs.

View of the ocean.

Sunrise ocean view.

Because they try to limit the light for the turtles, the resort in general is dark at night, but in particular it was annoying that there were no lights on the stairs. It especially did not makes sense when there are some lights on the ramp. However, not sure the logic of when they go on because sometimes the ramp was lit at night and sometimes it was not.

The only wheelchair accessible cottage is at the opposite end of the resort than we stayed at last year. We found being at this end of the resort was much better for parking than last year as even last year I noticed when walking in the mornings that this end always had open spaces whereas at the end we were at least year we had issues with parking being full and several times an electric vehicle parking partially in the wheelchair access aisle when they were charging rather than actually being in their spot. Being at this end also made it so that we did not have to deal with going past the pool to get to the main building, which after the first day was often blocked by them moving in equipment for the pool refurbishment that started on our second full day.

Something new we enjoyed this year was finding Tinker Bell. Every day she was moved and if you found her, you could get a sticker on a button. When you fill the button, they let you pick a prize from their bucket of little toys.

It was a bummer that the mini golf closed with the pool (pool closure was not as much of a missed thing with the weather not being ideal for it this year anyways). We did at least manage to get one round in playing the mini golf tournament on the one day we could.

Overall we really enjoyed Disney's Vero Beach again this year. The space of the cottage was nice and something we'd definitely do again if we end up with enough points to splurge on it. Not sure we could go back again with the lock off and the small studio space, but I really have surprisingly enjoyed our trips to Vero Beach having discovered the nature trails off the nearby Jungle Trail.

Destination Info:

9250 Island Grove Terrace
Vero Beach, FL 32963

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Ole Red Orlando

Date of Visit: December 13, 2023

I had been wanting to check out Ole Red the past several trips to Orlando and this trip we finally got around to it. We went for lunch, which turned out good with it being pretty much empty. However, it did end up meaning no live music, although they do play music videos on the screen above the stage.

For the starters, we had the Fried Pickles and the Southern Fried Cheese Curds. We enjoyed them both, but I really liked the Fried Pickles.

For the meal, Mik had the Honey Bee Hot Chicken & Waffles, which was enough for him to take home for dinner later. I had the Some Beach Fish Sandwich. Mom and Dad both had the Bluetick and Ahi Tuna burgers. It was all good other than we were not fans of the tots.

For dessert between the four of us we tried all 3 of the mason jar desserts, which included Banana Pudding, a Seasonal Cheesecake (white chocolate and cranberry), and Blake's Choice (peppermint mousse that day).The were all good, but probably the Banana Pudding was the favorite.

Overall we really enjoyed dining here and probably would do again. So often restaurants have the tables too close together to be able to get to the tables without people having to get out of their chairs and push them in and the table legs make it so Mik cannot roll up close. So it was a plus that neither of these things were issues here. It may be different when there are actually people here, but they did seem to purposely have the low top tables set up to be accessible when they were choosing were to seat us at one of the tables in front of the stage as the areas on the sides of the stage had more tables including high bar style areas.

Destination Info:

Ole Red Orlando
8417 International Dr
Orlando, Fl 32819