Friday, March 18, 2011

Disney 2011 - Day 1: Departure, Downtown, and Check In

Believe it or not, I didn't really take all that many photos on this trip (well, compared to normal). Some rides and attractions didn't get photographed at all, not even the sign. I know! To borrow from The Yarn Harlot, I had camnesia. Actually spent more time enjoying the trip (or not, as the case may be), so my clicky finger took a bit of a vacation as well. More photos when we "get to the parks," I promise.

We left after work on Tuesday. So much better drive on a Tuesday than a Friday! We know this from past experience, but the difference is truly dramatic. As usual for trips south, we hit Loco's in Macon for dinner, then headed on down to Valdosta to spend the night and fill up on gas before crossing the state line into higher prices. Wednesday, we met up with Mom at Downtown Disney just in time for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, where we all got our usual: Rumble in the Jungle turkey wraps for DH and me (his with fries, mine with chips), Rasta Pasta for Mom, and kid's fried popcorn shrimp with fries for Luke. He has always loved these birds out front!

After lunch, we had to run a few errands. First stop was supposed to be the temporary LEGO store (the usual one is closed for refurbishment, so they have a temp location set up next to Once Upon a Toy), but we got distracted by the pin hut, which is on the way. I won't tell you how many pins we bought. Let's just say we made up for buying very few the past 2-3 years. Anyway, I paid for the pins while DH and Luke got a head start on the LEGOs. Boy, am I glad we didn't spend much time in there! It is basically a huge pop-up tent, shaped like a yellow LEGO brick. I wondered how they kept everything inside from being yellow, since the walls definitely looked translucent. Answer?

They didn't! The *entire* store looked like this. It was awful. (And it was driving the white balance on my camera absolutely bonkers!) I don't know how people work in there all day. I sincerely hope they go outside frequently to "correct" their vision. Just the few minutes we spent in there made everything take on a decidedly bluish cast when we left. Luke decided to go with a cup full of LEGOs that he chose himself from the bins of options. I was disappointed that the picture of Luke with LEGO Woody was so yellow (the flash didn't help at all! I used flash in the picture above), but Picasa did quite a good job getting most of the yellow out, even if it left the more neutral colors a little flat. (Yes, they are slightly different photos, sorry.)

After the LEGO store, we proceeded to our next order of business: a hat for Luke. See, this is what happens when you forget to put something on the list; you leave it at home! I happened to spot my hat as we were walking out the door, so I grabbed it and asked DH if he wanted one. He grabbed his, and we left. (We actually left our park tickets at home, too, but we realized it less than 5 minutes from the house, so we went back for them!) Never even dawned on me to grab Luke's hat, since he wasn't with us yet; we were picking him up and leaving straight from daycare. Disney without a hat is not an option in this family! But I had no idea if we would be able to find a better hat for Luke than his Buzz Lightyear hat. Luke also has a habit of not warming up to new hats (or sunglasses) immediately. Sometimes he has to "live with them" for weeks or months before he is ready to wear them. I really didn't want to have to fight with him about wearing a hat! Turns out, I needn't have worried.

Oh yeah! I walked in, saw it, said "yep," and picked it up. When DH and Luke met up with me later, I showed it to Luke, he said "yep," gave it a thumbs up, and that was that. Guess it's not an issue when you find the *perfect* hat! I also picked up a new hat for me this year. My "Mickey Through the Years" hat is several years old, and it was looking a bit worse for wear, all sweaty and covered in sunscreen. Since I was already in hat mode, I thought I'd see if one struck my fancy. If they'd had the Mickey Jedi hat in adult sizes, I'd have bought one! But alas, no. I was starting to think there were just *no* hats for me, until I saw this one. Yep! LOL

I had realized a week or so before we left that my sneakers needed to be replaced. They are over a year old, purchased not long before last year's trip to Disney, actually. I wear them every day when the weather is cool or wet, and a good 2-3 times we week even when the weather is warm. They are thoroughly worn out, but I was not about to buy/wear brand new shoes to Disney! That's just asking for trouble. I'd just have to suffer (and suffer I did!). Walking at Downtown Disney only confirmed my suspicions; my feet were already killing me. Nothing to be done but stock up on Tylenol and keep going.

With errands complete, it was after check-in time at the hotel. We were hoping that we would be able to get rooms closer together if we waited until the rooms were "officially" ready. Not sure if checking in earlier or online would have prevented what happened next. All I can say is that the cast members at All Star Music should get down on their knees and praise whatever higher power they believe in that my father was not the person checking in!

We walked in to the lobby of Disney's All Star Music Resort, and there was no one in line at check in. Awesome! We walked right up to a cast member and started the process. We had marked on our reservations that we were traveling with another party, including listing the name and reservation number of the other person. My room had already been assigned; Mom's had not. Odd. Is there any chance she can be assigned a room near ours? But our cast member was still frowning at the screen. "Mrs. Gaston, they have you in a king bed room. I don't understand why would they do that when your reservation clearly says you have 3 people." Do you have a double bed room available that we could have, and give the king bed room to my mom? Many minutes passed as she scrolled through screen after screen, still frowning. "Let me make a call." Another 15-20 minutes passed, largely waiting for someone to pick up the line. I knew things were not going well when I overheard her say "well, we're not *100* percent full...." Great, just great.

We've now been standing at the empty counter for 30 minutes. She hangs up the phone. "I'm going to speak with our manager," and she walks away to a woman sitting behind a small counter in the far back corner. I can feel my blood pressure rising, but she is clearly doing everything she can. Being upset with *her* won't help; she's not the one who basically overbooked the hotel! (Plus, we had just witnessed a guy being a total jackass to the cast member next to us, and I was determined NOT to be like him.) We are well out of earshot, but I can tell from facial expressions, body language, and the many furtive glances thrown in my direction by both women that things are not going well. Finally, the manager comes over to speak with me. "Mrs. Gaston, I am terribly sorry. We have several large groups occupying our double bed rooms. They will be checking out tomorrow, at which time we can move you to a double bed room. In the meantime, we will comp you a roll away bed for tonight and credit your account for 25% of one night for your time and trouble."

Not really having much choice other than to walk away and *hope* we could find other accommodations (ha ha), I took it, but I certainly wasn't happy about it. 25% of one night is less than I make in an hour at work. I'd been *standing* at the counter for nearly an hour (50 minutes, to be exact), so she hadn't even compensated me for my time, much less for my trouble, and certainly not for hassle that was still to come involved in actually switching rooms. I personally think it should have been at least half off one night if not that whole night free. It was their screw up, not mine. And it's not like the room switch happened automatically. I had to call and confirm that we did still want to switch the following morning, I had to hope they didn't lose our bags when they transferred them (something I had to arrange myself if I wanted to go that route), I couldn't use the refrigerator since they wouldn't be moving it with the room (just providing a new one in the new room) so I had to continue to keep our perishables in the cooler, we couldn't unpack anything (unless we wanted to repack it all the next morning). Not. A. Happy. Camper. AT ALL! And I can assure you that we will NOT be staying on Disney property next year after this experience, unless they truly make me an offer I cannot refuse.

We were assigned to the Jazz Inn. (Never did get a good picture of the front! Photo above is of the drum icon as seen from the balcony just outside Mom's door.) By this point, it is nearly 5PM. We had just enough time to unpack the car and head out to dinner before Luke had a meltdown. Dinner was at Uno's at Crossroads and was quite yummy. We even had some leftovers, not that we could put them in the refrigerator! ::ahem:: We hit Walgreen's on the way back to the hotel for milk and the like for breakfast over the coming days (thank goodness Mom had gotten a fridge in her room, too). I realized at some point in here that we had forgotten to stop by guest relations at Downtown Disney to have our tickets checked. None of us knew exactly how many days we had left, but we knew we all had at least *one* day, so we let it go. We would just check them at any of the parks or at the hotel later.

Currently feeling: not off to a good start


  1. We're thinking of going back to Disney in July. I'm going to love following along with your trip report. :)

    Sorry you had bad luck staying on property - both times we went we stayed on property and had wonderful service at both hotels, but we didn't stay at All Stars. Thanks to excellent deals both times we were able to stay at the Poly and the Wilderness. I personally recommend the Wilderness whole-heartedly. They are every bit as nice as the Poly, but less expensive. They aren't on the monorail, but we didn't miss it all with the easy boat ride to MK. :)

  2. Whoa, bad luck!!! We've been staying on property since, well, the 1980s and never had a problem like that as far as I can recall.

  3. Wow, that was unusually bad of them. We stay at Pop Century regularly (this fall will be 5 years in a row there) and have never had an experience like that. We did a split stay with my best friend arriving half way through our trip last fall and they still managed to get her only 3 rooms away. I can only imagine they must have really screwed something up. I'm sorry it was bad for you, but I'd recommend giving staying on property another shot.


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