Saturday, January 5, 2013

December 2012 Trip Report: Part One

Greetings Parkscope readers! My name is Tyler and I'm the newest member of the team here at Parkscope. Some of you may know me as WDW Vacationer on Twitter. I'm thrilled to be here and share my trip report with you. Before we begin, some ground rules:
- There will be no DH, DW, DS, DD, BFF Jill or any such mommy blogger terms.
-There will be no meet and greets, no Pirates League, no Bibbidy-Bobbity Boutique.
-No magic, no pixie dust, no celebrating magical dreams.
-Only real observations from a real visitor who generally knows what the hell he's talking about.
I've been visiting Walt Disney World since the late 70s. All of those trips were with my parents and grandparents and we always stayed at Fort Wilderness. Back when the Wilderness Homes looked like mobile home trailer park residences. I didn't visit from 1991-2002. In 2003 I took my wife and kids. We stayed off property, followed by two trips in 2006 and 2009 at Old Key West and Saratoga Springs, respectively. When planning this trip, I wanted to return to Fort Wilderness with my wife and kids, because even when I was a young kid, the place left an impression on me. I plan to do a post entirely devoted to the Fort and what makes it so special. Our trip was December 8-15. Along for the ride was my wife and two sons, and our family friends and their two kids. With all that out of the way, let's begin.

Day 1
December 8
I'll do you all a favor and spare you the travel details and jump right to the part you all read this blog for. We arrived in Orlando around 1 in the afternoon and then had to catch Magical Express to the Fort. This is where it goes down hill. I was pretty hungry. The bus ride was long. I wanted to check in and eat. Saturdays are traditionally a big check in/check out day, so you'd think it would be all hands on deck.
You'd be wrong.
They had one check in lane open. The rest were Concierge dealing with tickets, golf carts and reservations  It took 45 minutes to get checked in. I was then sent to concierge to get the passes on our 2009 room keys transferred to the new ones. Simple, right?
An hour and a half later, I was ready to leave Reception Outpost. They offered a van to take us to our cabin. Great! 10 minutes they said.
Enter Super Cast Member #1- James. He was in the middle of loading luggage on to his van from Magical Express, but dropped everything to take care of us. He even got us our luggage right away. Kudos to James. The Wilderness Cabins are probably a little smaller than a standard hotel room. But they pack a murphy bed for 2, double bed and bunk bed along with a full kitchen and ample space. The theme is really nice as well-think Wilderness Lodge.
My wife offered to get the rental car from Alamo right next to the TTC and then run to the supermarket. I'm a lucky man. 
This gave me time to explore Fort Wilderness and  I could hardly wait. I got to the Meadow Pool as fast as I could to grab a bite to eat. Once my blood sugar was at a survivable place, I was able to explore Fort Wilderness  And it was glorious. I spent 3 hours just walking around and playing basketball with my kids. 

Later that night, we had plans to head to Tumbleweed Crossing- Downtown Disney. Oh, Downtown Disney. We made a bee line for Wolfgang Puck Express at marketplace. I'd recommend that to anyone. The food there was superb and the service was quick. We then met up with our friends and spent the rest of the night walking around. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I talk about Downtown Disney quite a bit. Pleasure Island is still a sad place. It's not bad at all once you get down near Paradiso 37 and Raglan Road and the atmosphere is actually really fun down there. The Celtic music from Raglan Road could be heard throughout the area and it livened things up. But the West End is quite sad, with empty clubs on all sides. It's quite ironic, since that side once held the West End stage, the most lively area of Pleasure Island back in the day. The rest of Downtown Disney I find to be well done.  The place was packed and some of the stores  particularly in the Marketplace have some quality things for sale. One thing I did notice that disappointed me was at Team Mickey  Some decorative display items and even some merchandise was dusty. Unfortunately, this would be a regular observation throughout the trip. Splitsville wasn't open yet, but the place looked really fun. The outdoor bar facing PI seemed especially nice. When I ever return to WDW, Splitsville will be on my to-do list. (Hopefully along with quite a few new attractions....) We were there until about 10, before returning to the Fort.

Okay. That does it for Part One. Once again, I'm very excited to be here. Next up is Disney's Hollywood Studios, where I found out I don't hate that park as much as I thought. So stay tuned.

Questions, comments, criticisms, pixie-dusting? I'm on Twitter! You can also leave a comment right here on the blog, and I might respond as soon as I can if you play nice. 

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