I recently spent a couple of days at the Walt Disney World Resort for a Disney Travel Agent Education Program and I had a pretty great trip! Here's what I did:
I stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter (POFQ) resort my first night. I LOVED it! It was a quaint, quiet little resort. My room overlooked the Sassagoula River, which was quite lovely! I asked for a corner room on the top floor and actually got it! I got to check out the new splash pool, which was absolutely darling! I loved the whole swim area. For breakfast, I had the POFQ "man-catching" beignets...I didn't catch a man, but they were worth it! Very tasty!
I packed up and grabbed a taxi over to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort (GF), which would be "home" for the next couple of days. The taxi only cost $15 which I thought was a great value! I could have had bell services transfer my bag over, and I could have taken Disney transportation, but I would have had to get on a bus to a park, then found another bus from the park to the GF! I didn't have a lot of time to waste, so I thought the $15 was a great value! Once I got checked in at Grand Floridian, I hopped on the monorail for a day at Epcot! The Epcot Flower and Garden Show had just gotten under way, so I wanted to check it out! After a quick ride on Test Track (one of my favorites), I just walked around taking pictures of the topiaries and gardens. They were very pretty, but I think they were still pretty new. I was also delighted to find that for the show, they had a little stand that served Disney Dole Whips!! Score!! I had to get back to my room to change and freshen up before the start of our conference at 3pm. I just hopped back on the monorail and headed back to the GF! Now you do have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) as the monorail does not take you directly to the resort. There are 2 monorails: the resort and the Epcot/park. Even with the switch, I love riding the monorail as opposed to the buses!
For dinner, we ate at the fairly new Signature restaurant, The Boathouse. I will say that if you are looking for a nice, quiet meal, this is NOT the place to eat! It was VERY loud! While the food was tasty, I'm not sure I'd really waste 2 Table Service credits on it again. (See picture further down in the feed of the S'More Baked Alaska---$40!!) After walking through Disney Springs a bit, we headed back to the Grand Florian on a bus (the only transportation from Disney Springs). I didn't really want to deal with the crowds at Magic Kingdom to watch Wishes, so I did what I always recommend to my clients that don't have tickets for a night---sit on the patio at Grand Floridian and watch Wishes from there! It was actually quite lovely and peaceful! They pipe in the music so you can at least "feel" like you're there. It is a bit different watching it from here and the first thing you notice is that the fireworks are not directly behind Cinderella's Castle, but actually quite far behind it! Very nice view though.
Tuesday, we ate breakfast at one of Grand Floridian's signature restaurants, Narcoosee's. It was a lovely little restaurant right on the water, and I was surprised to learn that they have a fantastic view of Wishes!! So, if California Grill is not available, check out Narcoosee's! We spent the morning in a conference room, and then headed over to Disney's Wilderness Lodge for lunch and a site inspection. Lunch was at one of my favorite restaurants, Whispering Canyon Cafe. The food is delicious, and there is a lot of fun going on during your lunch! If you get a great waiter, it makes it even more fun! Our waitress was a hoot, and kept us laughing through the whole lunch! Following lunch, we did site inspections of Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club resorts, and Disney's Polynesian Village resort. They were all quite lovely in their own ways. It really would just depend on what you're looking for in your vacation to decide where to stay. (I'd stay at any of them!) After the site inspections, we were free for the evening. I took off for Magic Kingdom to use my 3 FastPass+ for the day: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Wishes Fireworks. I will say that I was not that impressed with the viewing area for Wishes; there were too many light poles in the way. I ended up leaving the area, and standing a little closer to the Castle so I could get some shots of Wishes without light poles in them! I don't think I'd ever waste another FastPass+ on Wishes again. When Wishes was over, I decided to head back to my room. I exited the park with thousands of my new best friends! I was going to ride the monorail back to the resort, but noticed there were only 5 people in line for the boat, so decided to ride it instead. It was quite a delightful ride! (And we beat the monorail!)
Wednesday came all too soon! I had to get up early to book dining reservations for a client (no, we are never off duty for our clients!) and pack my bags to check out. I took all my bags to bell services for them to keep while I finished the morning in a conference, and then spent the afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios (DHS). I did have to take a bus to DHS, but it wasn't too bad. I wanted to check on the construction of Star Wars Land but got so swept in the most recent Star Wars stuff that I lost track of time and never went to the back of the park!! There is a little movie called Star Wars: Path of the Jedi. There were pieces and clips of all the Star Wars movies for those that weren't familiar with the franchise. It was only about 15-20 minutes long, and actually a nice little film. Following the movie, I headed over to the new Star Wars Launch Bay. Lots of memorabilia, and expensive things to buy! They also had some Star Wars backdrops that you could have your picture taken in front of. I just happened to notice that the line for the Kylo Ren Meet & Greet was only 10 minutes long so jumped in line so I could get a picture with him so that I could become my nephew's favorite Aunt! (Kylo is his favorite). This meet & greet was very cool! Unlike other meet & greet's, you go into a room one at a time with only a photographer and a handler. These big doors (like the ones in Star Wars films) open up and you are escorted into a room. Kylo enters and talks to you (sounds exactly like him--very creepy!); he said I brought light into the room, but he could see the darkness in my heart....sure, whatever! Lol... After a few pictures, I headed out for my Toy Story Mania FastPass+. I love that ride, but it's not really fun when there's no one to compete against (except I did win with the highest score...) Then it was over to Star Tours for my next FastPass+. I was a little early so watched the new Jedi Training Academy. Very similar to the old one, but now Kylo Ren is part of it. I rode Star Tours, and for the very first time, got a little sick on it. The new one (that includes scenery from the Force Awakens) was a little more bumpy and twisty than the usual one. When I was done, it was almost time to head back but I wanted to grab some lunch at Starring Rolls. Oh, my! Their sandwich selection is amazing! I had a pastrami on pretzel roll with dill pickle and chips! It was really good! I also opted to have a Butterfinger Cupcake, which I have heard a lot of good things about...it was not hype! That thing was freaking amazing! I got my lunch to go, and headed back to the bus for the Grand Floridian. I ate lunch on the patio outside of Gasparilla's Quick Service restaurant at GF, then headed indoors to take a few more pictures. When it was close to time to get on Disney's Magical Express, I got my luggage from Bell Services and went to the pool to change clothes (not at the pool, but at the pool house!). I changed clothes and went to wait for my Disney's Magical Express bus ride back to the airport. It was a quick trip, but full of lots of new things and experiences. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip!! Please let me know if you have any questions! Have a magical day! - Monica
Note about the author: Monica is our most experienced travel agent and has been to the most training events of anyone in our office. She is a whiz at helping people plan fantastic Disney vacations.