Sunday, November 29, 2009

day 5: visiting resorts

on sunday, we knew we only had a few final hours in disney and surprisingly--we'd done pretty much everything we'd wanted to do. but we got up and packed and rather than eating breakfast at our resort, we went back over to epcot to eat in the park and plan our day.

one of the last times i was in orlando in 2003, we visited some of the big resorts just to see the lobbies and some of the cool features. i remembered that a couple of them were accessible from epcot (also something i learned from samantha brown) so we headed out to explore and see what we could find. a helpful disney employee pointed us in the right direction, and sure enough--between france and engalnd, we found the "international gateway" that led us to several of the big name resorts.

like the disney boardwalk...

i loved the old-fashioned design for the buildings and the "jersey shore" feel for the shops and restaurants.
then there was the yacht club resort...
which was all decked out for the holidays and included a huge train set in the lobby.
and the beach club resort--
known for its huge gingerbread carousel in the lobby during the holidays.
again--the details. this was the fake roof on the window that sold gingerbread cookies in the afternoons to people who stopped by. each cookie is uniquely decorated (and looks so good!)
we went back into epcot after walking around and decided to go back at eat lunch at our hotel. the park was getting incredibly crowded by that point, and i just couldn't see walking around the world showcase again to find lunch. plus, there were large parts of our resort that we hadn't even seen, like the pool...
and of course, as we were visiting this section, we were dressed in preparation to fly back home (in jeans and t-shirts) and it was easily 80 degrees outside. i so could've jumped in the pool right then...

a view of the main part of the resort, where we spent the majority of our time.
and a last picture before we left the resort and headed to the airport.
so--that's our trip. we had the best time and i can't believe how quickly it went by. we'd always wanted to do disney with "just us" and we did. it's a totally different experience as just two adults, and i loved the way we were able to plan it.

i would totally recommend the disney dining plan, which came with our travel package and is definitely an option families should consider in planning. we are usually so cheap in eating at theme parks, and we would have never eaten so well if it hadn't been for the dining plan. (just remember to tip!)

if you do plan on doing table-service dining, go ahead and make reservations as soon as possible (they open up 90 days in advance.) we were able to make some last minute changes thanks to our concierge, but we were open to eating earlier in the day for that meal because all of the dinner-time slots were taken.

we also did well in combining short lines with fast passes to make it through lots of rides quickly. if we found a short line for a ride, we'd grab a fast pass for a big ride first and then go on the short lined-ride. same for shows that were close to a popular ride. and we always made it to the park at opening or within 30 minutes of opening and hit the biggest rides first. that worked incredibly well for us.

i can't say enough about how easy it was to stay on park property and use the disney transportation and the extra magic hours. granted, we'll have to do a trip back to visit sea world and universal studios/islands of adventure, but we didn't have to rent a car after flying down and that was a huge savings for us (and much less hassle with parking, driving, directions, etc.)

and finally, as much fun as it is (and so like my type-a nature) to plan a trip like this, it was also fun to just be there and to experience disney with my wonderful husband. the new shows and rides that neither of us had seen before, the older ones that brought back fun memories, and the opportunity to be there as an adult--i know that sounds weird, but i'd only been to disney before as a kid, a teen or a young adult with my family. and disney is just something you should do as an adult, too :)

so--sea world and universal next? who's with me?