Oct 23 - Hotel switch, MK and Epcot


Sunday October 23


This was our final hotel switch day, we were heading to Port Orleans Riverside for the last 10 nights of our vacation, my choice of resort! We were sad to leave Coronado though, as it is such a gorgeous resort and we enjoyed the newly remodeled rooms so well. We got all packed up and drove over to Port Orleans Riverside. It was also lovely, and I took a few pictures of the main building as we went to check in. 


"Sassagoula Steamboat Company" is the name of the main building. 



And here is a model of the Sassagoula Steamboat



In the check-in lobby, these giant paddle fan things were, we decided, most hideous. 

Stitch immediately went to go watch cartoons while Mum and I checked in, she is so funny sometimes.  



 I hovered at the desk during check-in, as I had researched the best buildings and really wanted to get into a specific building. I was determined to stay in a “Mansion,” partly for their grandiose architectural style but mostly to avoid having to stay in the alligator sheds over in the “Bayou” section, which were hideously outfitted in rustic log cabin style. Also I felt like the location was better, as the proximity to the boat dock, swimming area and food court building was closer. I had also seen some pictures of the newly remodeled rooms online and I loved them!

When we made the reservations we were able to give them all of our preferences, but of course they can't promise anything, so we just had to keep our fingers crossed.


The guy at the check-in desk said we were in the Mansions, but after disappearing in the back for a while regretfully informed us that we were not in a remodeled room, saying there was nothing available for our length of stay. Le sigh. Oh well, happy to have gotten into a Mansion, we left to deal with our baggage. The room wasn't ready yet, but we gave our 10 bags over to Bell Services to hold for us and went over to the sister resort, Port Orleans French Quarter, to have lunch. 


French Quarter entrance,  where a funny CM dressed as a clown was entertaining guests

Another point of my rationale for not staying at French Quarter was because I think the giant Mardi Gras-esque faces hanging up in the food court are distressingly creepy. I like the dragon slide at the pool and the other aspects of the resort, though. Yet there we were, 10 minutes after checking into the other Port Orleans, eating under the giant faces! But we had to visit the food court for beignets--these were not to be missed! Mum remembered them from when we were there in the nineties and it was the first thing we ordered at the food court. They made them fresh for us, but by the time we paid and sat down they were kind of cold and chewy. “Pretty much just fried bread,” Ursula wrote.




15 years after staying at this resort, these creepy faces are most of what I remember about our stay.



Who wants to eat with the scary faces staring at you? 

We got a call that our room was ready and headed over to the other resort. The paint on the door was all scuffed up, and that should have been a good warning for what we'd find inside. As we entered I tried to keep my chin up. It wasn't the room we really wanted, but it wasn't so bad, was it? It reeked of bleach, but as Ursula noted it wasn't particularly clean. There was grime in every corner, the light in the bathroom took forever to turn on and was a tinny yellow color. The bathtub was stained, and the walls in the main area were dingy greyish yellow. The sink area was charming, but also kind of gross looking, the way vintage apartments are. The wall behind the chairs were all scuffed with brown paint from years of the chairs banging up against it. The bedspread was atrocious, and outside our window was a view of a giant post. I took pictures of everything (as proof perhaps?) and sat down at the table.


Even Stitch looks unimpressed

Ursula and I were really disappointed. We discussed what to do.--we had already been told that there weren't any remodeled rooms available. We could try our luck but might get put in an alligator shed. If we were only staying for a couple nights it would probably be all right, but we were going to be there for the rest of our trip, did we really want to be in this depressing, dingy room for 11 more days? We didn't want to be the kind of guests that always complain about everything, hoping for special treatment by being obnoxious, but at the same time we were paying for this, it wasn't a gift room.


Ursula made the executive decision to call and ask for a room change. She was immediately put through to a supervisor who sounded surprised that we hadn't been put in a remodeled room in the first place. She gave us a new room number and had us come fetch a new key. Since we didn't have any bags yet it made the switch even easier. Perhaps the supervisors have a cache of nice rooms for people who complain loudly enough? 


Home sweet home!

About 15 minutes later we were inspecting our new room. It was lovely! Outfitted in shades of teal (my favorite!), with fresh paint, interesting artwork and neat headboards, we were so happy to have made a small fuss and gotten a room change! The building was exactly the one I'd wanted all along, and the location was great. It was closest to the main building, the main pool and the boat dock. Plus our room was on the second floor, and in a great location, not overlooking a parking lot, near the quiet pool and laundry area without being directly over it. Perfect! 




Love these chairs! Can you see Ursula reflected in the mirror? I made the fam wait outside while I took pics of our room!


I finally allowed the family inside.



The quiet pool, next to the laundry room

We called for our bags, extra towels, and got ready for our afternoon at Magic Kingdom! I'd brought a bunch of glow necklaces and bracelets along, and since it was the last leg of our trip we decided we needed to start using it. The problem with glow stuff is that we always left the room when it was light and didn't want to carry it around with us all day until dusk. We tackled the issue tonight by putting a few necklaces on and hoping the glow would last until dark.


According to Ursula her fatal flaw was trying to rush us girls out of the room, which “never works.” Usually it is Stitch that moves at a snail's pace, but this time it was me holding everybody back. I forgot my sunglasses and roomkey in the room, so I had to negotiate with Stitch, first to go back and get them for me, then after giving that up, to give me her room key so I could go fetch them. The family continued on to the bus stop without me, but as I found out after getting my things, I had no idea where the bus stop was. I walked around trying to find one, and ended up at a different stop. Not only that, but the MK bus had just been by and they were on it! I had to wait 20 minutes for the next bus, and ride by myself to MK, where they were waiting for me on a bench “in the blazing sun.” 

So I delayed us by about 30 minutes by forgetting my sunglasses! I was amused to note that they were waiting with a plainclothes security guy, who must have thought that they looked pretty suspicious because he was hovering near them as I came up the walkway. I had been keeping my eye out for undercover security (once again because I had been reading a thread about it, and it amused me) so I was delighted to finally spot one!


The train station has some neat details, I love the antique luggage



We said hello to Pinocchio as he was leaving his meet and greet area. 



And the marching band came by. What a greeting to MK!

Our plan once we entered Magic Kingdom was to catch up with our cousin Laura, who was visiting the park with her new husband and step daughters. Though communication was spotty and we didn't have an easy time of it. We took the train over to the Splash Mountain area and looked around for them, but they were nowhere to be found. 


The monorail and entrance as seen from the train station



All aboard!

We decided they were probably on SM or in line, so we decided to get fast passes for Splash, then ride Big Thunder Mountain since the wait was short. Big Thunder was a blast, as usual! I got a lot of great pictures as we waited. 












By the time we were done with BTMRR, our FP window was open, so we went ahead and rode Splash really quickly, and were all refreshed from getting wet. Perfect!


Yes please!



Don't worry, I didn't use my flash. Which is why this is blurry.
















Dole whip float

By the time we were done there, the cousins were in another area of the park completely. It took us a good couple hours to find each other, since neither family wanted to just sit still and wait for the other to find them. Near dinner time they somehow got walk-up seating to the Crystal Palace. We sat on the bench outside the restaurant with Dole whips and waited until they were done eating. We saw part of the castle show as we were sitting, which was cool. We wouldn't have ever bothered to stand and watch the show, but we could hear enough of it and see the characters dancing around, so we decided it counts as having watched it. 



Stitch is crazy because she prefers the orange and vanilla swirl over the pineapple flavor. 



Aloha Isle is our favorite place in MK!


The view from the Crystal Palace porch


When I zoomed way in we could actually see Mickey and Minnie

 Ursula was amazed that the CM's there didn't chase us away from the porch of the Crystal Palace. They were there about 4 feet away and looked at us every so often but didn't tell us it was only for people waiting for their reservations or anything. All right.


We finally were united with Laura, Tim and their teenage girls. We made hurried introductions. Stitch's eyes about bugged out of her head when she learned that the girls were actually several years younger than her, even though they were taller and had some sort of fashion sense. 

Mum and I were amused that they had rented a stroller for the day just to push their giant backpack with long pants, sweaters and Halloween costumes. It was really funny to see Tim push it, and the girls might have been embarrassed. Tim was very straightforward though, it is all about utility. He strolls to one area of the park, puts it in stroller parking, then leaves it until it's time to go to the next area. Apparently if the backpack was in a locker then they wouldn't be able to get the things they need fast enough, and nobody wanted to actually wear it. Kind of brilliant actually, and very funny!


Tim and the stroller



Nobody was cooperating to let me get a good picture of the backpack stroller !




Me, cousin Laura and Stitch



Ursula and Laura

We all walked over to the Halloween party bracelet area, where the cousins got properly tagged. I was dying of jealousy because I wanted to go to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party so badly! We discussed costumes and remarked how no one else in the family would believe we'd managed to connect. It is pretty incredible that two separate families from the Pacific Northwest planned two separate vacations in Florida and managed to meet up. We had to take pictures to have as proof! For some reason we don't have a group picture, unless Tim took one of all of us. Oh well, we have a few, and that will have to serve. 


We all rode Pirates of the Caribbean together and that was fun. But in the dump shop it became clear that the other girls wanted to ride Space Mountain clear across the park, and we didn't really want to walk that far, knowing that in a short time we'd be made to leave so the ticketed event could start. Plus we didn't want to horn in on their vacation time, either. As a new step mother I bet Laura was trying her best to bond with the girls and spend time as a family with them and Tim. So after hugs we parted company.

Ursula marveled, “the Alaska/Seattle/Portland brigade caught up together at WDW!”


We got fast passes for Jungle Cruise, then we felt the need for a magic carpet ride on Aladdin. When we were waiting in the short queue I noticed all sorts of beads and trinkets embedded in the pavement, which was a great source of entertainment as we stood in line. 






















We went on the Jungle Cruise and loved it, as usual. We had an excellent skipper with the best comic timing I'd heard in a while. There is so much opportunity for the spiel to sound canned and bored, but we got a rare gem who sounded as enthusiastic as the first day. There was a little boy on our boat who had the cutest Halloween costume on, and I couldn't resist getting a quick pic. 






Great shark costume!







Stitch and I played with the toy boats when we were done with our cruise, and got our money's worth of enjoyment out of it. My goal was to steer the boat through a narrow opening and once I'd accomplished that I felt like all was well with the world.










We headed toward the front of the park, as it was almost time for the regular guests to leave so that the VIPs may enjoy themselves. We walked through the Emporium and were there when they brought out the special event merch-- orange tie-dye tee shirts, special limited edition pins, etc. Stitch snagged a Stitch pin and went to pay for it. After the CM was done ringing her up he told her he wasn't supposed to sell it to her because she didn't have a bracelet, which made her feel guilty. Mum told her not to feel bad-- “Notice he waited until after you paid to tell you, they still just want your money after all the fuss they make.”







I was kind of enjoying the spooky lights and the new CM event costumes, fun music and everything, but they were pretty steadily herding us out of the park, checking for wristbands at many checkpoints, which pretty much guaranteed that we were not going to be able to stay and enjoy the perks of a ticketed event for free. So anyone complaining of this issue on the boards needn't worry, the peons are consistently and graciously ushered out of the Magic Kingdom!


We caught the monorail to the TTC, then headed to Epcot, since I had missed it the night before. 




The mural at Spaceship Earth

We rode Spaceship Earth but did not stop for videogames, and then pressed onward to the WS to try to get as many snacks as possible in the hour remaining before Illuminations and closing. Around this time my camera battery exhausted itself. Even with nightly recharges our camera batteries got a good workout during the day!

We managed to get a fair number of snacks before the booths closed. I was standing at the counter of an African booth when the witching hour struck, and the CM's were all so excited to be closing, they didn't try to hide it from the guests at all! The upside was that I got about 5 plates of stuff for free since I was the last guest there. The meat dishes I gave to mum and Stitch, but I had at least 3 veggie/lentil dishes to scarf all on my own. As this was dinner I was happy to oblige. 


We found a decent spot where we weren't blocked by too many giant rocks or trees to watch IllumiNations, and I was very happy to have “caught up” with my family members who enjoyed the rides and show without me the night before.


IllumiNations, thanks to TheObsessivePhotographer

We caught the bus back to Port Orleans, but it was pretty crowded. “It was insane and the driver was terrible!” Ursula remarked. He did try to joke with some of the passengers to keep morale up, but I think everyone was just so tired that nobody cared. After about half the bus emptied out he made a stop and wished everyone a good night. Then he ran off the bus without putting the brake on! We lurched forward about 6 feet and he jumped back on board to set the break. Then he jumped back off and laid a washcloth down on the ground outside the back door, for a “princess” to walk on I guess. I was able to clearly see this part of the production because our group was split up with me near the back door, Ursula up front, and Stitch somewhere in-between.

Ursula said, “I heard him tell someone that the brake failed, and he'd have to report it. From the odd way he was acting, I'd say a tox screen was more in order than a brake inspection.”


It was really weird and we were so glad to be off that bus. Also glad we have our own car and don't need to use it too often. Standing up in a crowded bus after walking 15 miles all day is too awful!


Next up we have fun at Downtown Disney!