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Disneyworld, Florida - Part 1

August 2005

This trip was a “ fam” (by now everyone knows what those are), TO Disney, organized BY Disney ... so guess what folks? This report is about…….DISNEY!!!!

I did take a few extra days on my own to explore the space coast area, which is the closest beach region. I wrote about that in the blog section (Eve’s world).

This trip was organized for Canadian travel agents. There were about 40 of us. I was again very lucky with the roommate that was chosen for me: a wonderful lady from Ontario, who had never been to Disney before. Visiting the parks with her was almost like taking a kid. At the end of our stay we were asked to recall our most magical moment and two of us recalled my roomie’s reaction in her first ride:  a small small world.

Like most fams this one included visiting hotels. The fun twist was that we did that in the morning, but the afternoons and evenings were spent visiting the parks! For clarity sake, I will separate this “report” in two parts: the lodging and the parks. Let’s start with the hotels! I will talk about the parks and the Disney philosophy in the second part.

We only visited “ON SITE” properties, meaning hotels that are located directly on Disney grounds. These are more expensive but have many advantages. First of which is the transportation: you do not need to rent a car. You can be picked up at the airport, you don’t even need to bother with your luggage: everything is taken care of for you. Once settled in, there is transportation available to all the different parks directly at your front door, free of charge You have access to extra hours in the parks: one hour before they open and on some nights 3 hours after they close. If you buy anything during the day, your goodies can be delivered to your room at no cost. 

As you will see each property has a theme and the theme is applied more or less subtly depending on the category. Here is what I mean: there are three categories: value, moderate and de luxe.

Let’s start with the value. There is a group of three properties, located next to each other, close to the animal kingdom park, called, Disney’s All Star Sports resort, Disney’s All Star Music resort and Disney’s All Star Movies resort. Then there is the newer Disney’s Pop Century resort, located close to the MGM Studios Park.

This is the one we visited.

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My first impression, from the outside, was a bit desolate… lots of cement…just a few hoola hoops to amuse the kids….little greenery. The lobby was a bit better, with a small playroom for the kids while their parents check in or out. The one interesting feature there is the shadow boxes lining the walls. Each one contains artifact from a different decade. Starting with the fifties right up to the end of the nineties…a lot of fun to watch people exclaim: “OHH I remember that!!!”.

There is a food court and shops. The pool area is very busy and kid oriented. There is no subtlety in the décor.

 

The rooms are ok, nothing fancy. There is cable TV, a hairdryer, a safe, an iron and ironing board. I guess this property appeals to some…but it is not refined…

The next property we visited is the Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter close to Downtown Disney. This is classified as moderate.

 

I have never been to New Orleans, but I loved the ambiance in this resort. Right from the start, the entrance with the fountain in a kind of greenhouse is lovely and peaceful.

 

The grounds are landscaped to perfection. The buildings are welcoming.

The theme is everywhere but less “in your face”. I especially liked the bedspreads…

 

There are even posts to tie up the horses.

 

 The street signs are tiled and most of the names sound French. There are carnival reminders here and there.

The pool is a bit over the top…but that’s OK…

 

This resort made a good impression. The other properties in the same category are: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- Riverside, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Coronado Spring Resort.

 

This is another resort that I liked.

 

Again nice landscaping, lovely flowers and lots of fountains.

The rooms carry the theme…but it is not overdone.

 

There is a food court that is made to look like a market; it is colorful and very pleasant. We had breakfast there…. There are food stations where you can get dishes prepared…like at the Moven Pic.

 

Next we visited Disney’s Fort Wilderness and  Campground, between Magic Kingdom and Epcot. I am not sure it fits into a hotel a category, as these are small log houses. As a Canadian, renting a log house in Florida is not quite right…. but I guess they might be exotic for some people.

 

 They each have a BBQ pit and a picnic table. Inside you have a living room with a pull down bed plus a bedroom with one double bed and a set of bunk beds. There is a kitchenette and a bathroom. It is very basic.

The campgrounds are also rather simple but they do offer washrooms and other facilities.

Next up is the deluxe category. The fun ones!

The first one we visited was the Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

 

This one is supposed to resemble Atlantic city of the 1940s (if I am not mistaken) complete with a real boardwalk along the water’s edge…It reminds me of the great old hotels on the Atlantic coast in Maine: imposing white buildings with green trim…

The entrance is surprising: the outside is blinding white and gold but once inside everything is colored, flowered…lots of chintzes, paintings and miniatures, an ornate chandelier, it is a bit overdone yet nothing compared to the rest of the building…

On the mezzanine there is a den all done in dark woods, overfilled with furniture, then, on each floor, there are vignettes, displays, curios…name it!

 It works…until you reach the bedrooms. Then I found it overwhelming: too many patterns for such a small space.

 

 The back of the hotel opens on the boardwalk.

There are shops, bars, and restaurants…

It is not a hotel for people whose taste goes towards minimalism. It does not feel as family oriented as the others we visited. This hotel has a more “adult” feel to it even if there are several pools.

The other deluxe property we visited was the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

 

I was impressed by the fact that the buildings have real thatch roofs. Along with young men in safari outfits, a lovely African beauty welcomes guests.

 

The entrance hall is breathtaking; here are a few photos to illustrate, the artwork, the furniture and fixtures that decorate this room.

 
 

In this lobby as in the Floridian there is a TV corner for the kids with small chairs and tables.

 

In the back of the hall is a huge window that opens onto the park where animals roam free. In front of it there is a fire pit around which people gather to hear legends in the evenings.

 

Outside the building there is a man made river…

 

The theme is everywhere, but tastefully so. The room doors are decorated with something similar to a shield…

 

The furniture in the rooms is unique also:

Last but not least, we stayed at the other five star hotel on site: the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa while we were at Disney. A beautiful group of buildings on the waterfront built in a Victorian style with verandas and very detailed woodwork.

 This is their flagship property, their nicest and fanciest. It costs around $350.00 USD per night to stay there. You are greeted at the entrance by a vintage car and carriage; every “cast member” is dressed in period clothing.  The lobby is furnished with chintz-covered sofas and chairs, birdcages, huge flower arrangements and enormous chandeliers hanging from an ornate vaulted ceiling. There is a grand staircase as well as an old fashion elevator. There is a grand piano as well as a full orchestra that plays every afternoon between teatime and cocktail hour.

 

The rooms were as refined as the lobby: four-poster beds, beautiful linens, dark wood furniture, marble bathrooms, even the toiletries were packaged in Victorian style…. This being a five star property, we had the daily turn down service complete with fresh towels and fancy chocolates….

 

There are several restaurants, from the fanciest (the Victoria and Albert) to the simplest (Citrico’s). We had a wonderful supper at the Narcoossee’s while watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks. We also had a “character breakfast” where everyone has the opportunity to talk to and get their photo taken with Disney characters. We got to meet Winnie the Poo, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins and a few others…

Take me to Disneyworld Part 2