Apr 03

Getting Sick at Disney World

On my December 2012 trip to Disney World I got to have a new experience, getting sick.  Even better, I got to see this from two different angles.

First, my sister gets arthritis in her ankle.  Second, I got a virus.

My sister has had trouble with arthritis in her ankle since a few Disney World trips ago.  She was preparing for a day at the Animal Kingdom and was in too much pain to go and instead went to Urgent Care.  On this trip it was less dramatic.  Her ankle had started to bother her after 2 days, she got information on the Urgent Care and we decided to go in the afternoon.  Too bad she missed one major bit of information, you can schedule an appt. We ended up waiting for 3 hours for a 15 minute appointment.

So here’s the info you need for Urgent Care at Disney World.  Centra Care is the Urgent Care centers in the area. There are 4 in the area of Disney World and they offer shuttle service to and from Disney World, just check with security or your resort front desk and they can make the arrangements for you.  If you’re sick and need to see the doctor, but don’t need to go NOW, you can schedule an appointment.  I got the impression that they often have waits, but 3 hours isn’t the norm.

Here is what Centra Care treats: Broken bones, cuts & scratches, coughs, cold, flu, sore throats, ear infections, stomachaches, fevers, pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhea, sinus infections, asthma, allergies, rashes, headaches, back pain and much more….

While they can fill the prescriptions that they write, not all of them have a wide variety of medications on hand.  If you are visiting the world and know you need heavy duty medication then you should mention that when picking a location (if you have a choice).  The location (off property near Animal Kingdom) we went to had the medication my sister needed, but there was also a Wal Mart across the street.  There is another location near Crossroads (main entrance to The World) and I know there are pharmacies there too, so there is a work around, but depending on what is wrong, it’s far from ideal.

As for me my virus was less dramatic.  Too bad it started to set in later in the day AFTER my sister and I had already been to Centra Care.  It started with some mild nausea (fried chicken might not have been my best idea) and exhaustion, pretty typical cold like symptoms.  Of course that night we went to a special viewing of the Osborne Lights.  I really wanted to have fun there, and I tried for my sister. But I was miserable.

The rest of the 2 days after that was kinda similar.  Take medication and feel ok, then get knocked on my ass at night while at an Illuminations Dessert Party and the airport.  I considered telling my sister to go off on her own one day, but felt bad, and I was afraid she wouldn’t want to go on her own.  So I kept going, it is Disney after all.  It probably wasn’t my best move.  I’m not sure if I had a virus to start with, or if I over did it in those 2 and a half days, but by the time I got home I was at the wanting to die stage…

I’m not sure what the answer to that dilemma is.  Although I felt crappy for a night and a day, buy the time I realized it was possibly more then a cold I was already on the way home.  But I did make use of the store at Pop Century and bought whatever cold medicine they had.  I would suggest that if you’re picky about medicine or feel you might be getting a cold before you leave, then it’s worth it to bring medicine from home.  The on-property stores don’t have a large selection.

Do you have any stories of getting sick on vacation?  What’s the biggest issue?

Mar 13

Pop Century Resort

 Back in December I stayed at Pop Century Resort.  Before the Art of Animation this was the most popular Value Resort at Walt Disney World.  I should give my frame of reference before I checked into Pop.  I had stayed at All Star Sports several years ago and since then stayed at a Boardwalk 1 bedroom Villa, Port Orleans French Quarter, Polynesian, Art of Animation family suite and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I had gotten a bit spoiled.  I was also with my sister who had only stayed at the Polynesian, which didn’t help with my frame of mind.  I had booked this room when I was planning on going by myself and when my sister decided to come I did offer to upgrade to a better resort, she said this was fine.

When we arrived at the hotel my sister was shocked to see that the resort was “motel” style.  I was like duh, but then realized that having only stayed at the Poly and only really seeing other Deluxe Resorts this probably wasn’t obvious.  It of course meant she hadn’t listened to me talking about other resorts with much attention.

Anyway, I’m not sure she’s gotten over the shock of the “motel” style, but I think the lobby impressed her more then she was expecting.  Although we were able to check in, we were not able to get into our room.  This was the first time this has happened to me and although it’s a bit of a pain, I thought Disney did a good job of notifying us when our room was ready and the room number so we wouldn’t have to go back to the check in desk.

When we returned to the resort it was dark and my sister was still not feeling the motel style with the big giant windows that everyone walks by.  While I guess they’re good for light, they are a little weird too since I can’t imagine leaving the blinds open.

When we walked into the room I think we were both surprised by how small it was, the space was well laid out, but the room was small.

Aside from the small aspect the room was highly functional.  There were 2 full sized beds, a flat screen TV, coffee maker, table with 2 chairs, 1 sink that was separate from the shower/toilet.  In the sink area there was also a bar for hanging clothes, a safe and a shelf for storage.  There was also a dresser with 3 drawers so there was plenty of storage for 2 people.  I have to say the room might have been small but I”m pretty sure the shower/toilet area was bigger then the one at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which I thought was interesting.  But don’t get excited, I only noticed because I had been at AKL 2 weeks earlier and was taking note of such things.

One complaint I’ve had about several Disney resorts and I had here too is poor lighting, why is it so hard to make a well lit hotel room?  As for the room themeing, I thought it was weak.  I expected something in the theme of the years I was in (50’s) instead it seemed there was one generic Disney design with Mickeys’ on it.  I wonder if this is an area where they might improve the resort during the next refurbishment.

We didn’t spend too much time in the common areas of the resort.  Actually, I had planned to take a walk around the resort, but when I got sick half way through the trip I was lucky I got out of bed, I certainly wasn’t going to walk around the resort.  And after being at Art of Animation I understood the layout of the resort anyway.  The main pool area was large with lots of seating and a bar like area.  We didn’t get to go to the pool, we were way too busy on this trip, but it seemed pretty typical of a Value Resort.

The food court was great though.  It was pretty typical for a value resort, but I could tell that before the Art of Animation, this was probably the best food court on property.  We mostly ate breakfast here, which offered pretty much anything you might want in some way – waffles, pancakes, breakfast burritos, or eggs.  Nothing exotic, but all the basics.  For lunch and dinner they had the usual stuff: burgers, salads, pasta, pizza and some special items.  There is also an ice cream station.  I didn’t try the Twinkies Tiramisu or the tie-dye cheesecake, I’ll leave that up to you!

Overall I liked the resort, there were no giraffes or views of the Magic Kingdom, but it certainly offers all the necessities at a low price.  When I stayed at All Star Sports for a week I felt like it was too long in such a small room, on this trip I was only there for 5 nights and was barely in the room so it was fine.  But if you’re a larger family or staying on a long trip you should keep in mind that the rooms are small and it could get a little tense after a few days.

Has anyone else stayed at Pop Century, what did you think?

Feb 06

The Horrific Dinoland

I’ve been to Animal Kingdom a couple times, though I do skip it on many trips. I somehow always missed Dinoland though.  Now that I’ve been there, I’ll be leaving it off my list in the future.

I entered Dinoland from Asia, near Dinorama, an area that can be best described as a carnival on a bad trip. It’s loud and flashy. It seemed cool at first, but by the time I walked out of there I was already getting a headache. When I looked in from the opposite side I saw that a lot of care was taken in the themeing, but they really went overboard by making it an unbearable place to be by the parents of the children who might enjoy it.

Then of course there was the ride Dinosaur, even after looking at the map to find where the ride was I had to look again because the area was so poorly marked. And the ride was even worse. I’m pretty adventursome about rides, I’m only limited now by my getting old and my body not keeping up like it used to. I road the Indiana Jones ride last year in Disneyland which has the same ride vehicle, I loved it. This ride though was terrible. It was dark, jerky and then dinosaurs jumped out at you, it wasn’t scary, it was annoying. The best is the picture of me on the ride, I actually look irritated, as did the other people in their pictures.

Disney, perhaps this is a better area for Avatar land?

Jan 09

The Animal Kingdom Lodge

In November I had the opportunity to stay at one of the places on my Disney Bucket List, The Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort at Walt Disney World positioned near the Animal Kingdom, the primary attraction at this resort is the animals.  The resort is made up of two separate areas, Jambo House and Kidani Village and  has several savannas where animals roam free and are viewable from room balconies and general guest viewing areas. 

The view at night from my balcony

I stayed in a Arusha Savanna view standard room with 2 queen sized beds.  The Arusha Savanna rooms appears to be the largest section of the resort (though I could be wrong) and while room rates only start at $265 a night for a rooftop view during value season, you’ll find that prices quickly rise if you want a savanna view room, which I’m guessing is the case for most people.  For a fall weekend in November expect to pay $330 for that parking lot view.  I paid $420 a night, plus taxes. 

My frame of reference for Deluxe Resorts is a stay at the Polynesian in a standard room and a stay at the Boardwalk in a villa. 

The simple things that I loved about the resort – it was simply beautiful, the rooms were accessible by hallways (no walking outside), and it had giraffes!

Themeing is where this resort excels.  The lobby is designed after an African lodge and it felt like an African lodge, though I guess I wont really know that until I actually go to an African lodge.  It had all the little touches you would expect and even the ones you wouldn’t expect, like giraffes in the fire extinguisher grating. 

One thing that was cute, but annoying is that the hallways were named, such as the giraffe trail or the zebra trail. It’s cute, but not effective in communicating to new guests locations. It reminded me of when I was on the Carnival Elation and the decks had names instead of numbers, highly ineffective. You’ll notice that most ships have deck number instead of names. To add to the confusion, the hallways/trails are not well marked.

The themeing was so great that at night the place even smelled like animals.  Maybe I just got “lucky” on my two nights there, but there was a definite animal scent in the evenings that wasn’t all that pleasant.

Rooms were well designed, they had lots of drawer space, a proper closet, 2 sinks in the sink area, which was separate from the toilet and shower (an issue I had with the Poly).  What I didn’t like was that the room was a bit small for a Deluxe Resort, significantly smaller then at the Poly and because the room was small the sitting area was next to the TV.  That’s a typical design in a Value or Moderate resort, I expected more space with a better sitting area at this resort. 

One thing that I found odd was the water pressure, it was strong in the sinks, but sucked in the shower.

Unless your an Animal Kingdom fan, the location is probably the worst of all the deluxe resorts.  You’ll need to take bus service to all parks and it’s not always a short ride.  Though, I did think the bus service was better here then at the Epcot resorts, which has 4 stops and takes forever. 

Common Areas
There are 2 restaurants and 1 quick service location at the resort.  I’ll talk about my dining experience at Boma in another post.  I did not get to eat at Jiko on this trip; but, I did eat at The Mara a couple times.  The Mara had a lot of the usual foods you would expect and a few African items too.  There were pizza’s, flat breads, couscous, chicken fingers, burgers and African stew.  I did try the African stew and it was tasty, I would put it in the good food, but not the great food category.  The thing I didn’t like was that there always seemed to be a line for food.  However, at dinner time they did bring your food to your table which made it a better experience at night. 

The Zawadi Marketplace was a fairly large and had a lot of the typically stuff you would find in a Disney gift shop, plus a few unique items to the resort too, in the African and animal theme.

Even the vending machine was themed
The last thing I’ll mention about Jambo House is the night vision goggles, they are available just off the pool area and allow you to see the animals roaming at night. This was a nice little feature if you can fit it in.  But, I found that at night if you had binoculars you’ll be able to see the animals with the ambient light in the area.  

Kadani Village
I did take a quick little tour of Kadani Village.  Although I thought the resort was about the same size in footprint as Jambo House, the lobby and shop were significantly smaller.  In this case, smaller was better, the resort had a much more intimate feel to it.  Also, the common area to view the savanna’s was smaller and had one larger viewing area instead of several smaller little spots, making it easier to see the whole savanna from one point.

Overall I really liked this resort, I particularly liked the giraffes.  I did have trouble reconciling the price of the resort with the resort offerings.  If there were no animals here, the resort would be significantly overpriced, particularly when compared to the other deluxe resorts at Disney World.  While I was able to easily say I could see myself staying at French Quarter or Art of Animation, I don’t necessarily see myself staying at this resort again unless I had a specific reason to. 

Jan 04

Travel Tip: Confirmation Numbers

Here is another Disney tip, when making dining reservations bring your confirmation numbers with you.  On my trip in 2011 I found on several occasions that the restaurants didn’t have my reservations on their screen.

I’m not sure how they do the reservations in their system, but it seems the easiest way to find them is by confirmation number.  Nope, name doesn’t help.  They need your name, phone number and first born to find your reservation without a confirmation number.  Of course now that I always bring the confirmation number with me I haven’t had an issue, which means I’ll keep bringing my confirmation numbers with me!

Has anyone else had this issue in the past?

Dec 26

EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary

October 1 was EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary, it was just luck that I was here for that since I planned this trip before I knew. The two days before I had kinda worn myself out a bit so I decided to sleep in this morning. Aside from the exhaustion I really wanted to be there for Illuminations.

When I got into the park I got my Fast Pass for Soarin and then went on line for limited edition merchandise, it was a 3 hour line. Thankfully, most of it was in the shade. At the end of the line were pins, t-shirts and that was pretty much it by the time I got there. The only thing I would have bought that I missed were the Vinylmations, thought it would have been a nice addition to my nephew’s collection, but he probably wouldn’t have appreciated since he’s 13.

In the afternoon I attended a 30th Anniversary talk with Marty Sklar it was a very interesting talk for even just a casual fan of Disney, he had a lot of great history on the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and Disney in general. I’ll share two intersting facts. Some of the pavillions that didn’t happen were – Africa and Iran. Iran, that would have been akward, though the images looked really cool. The park entrance was almost in the middle of Future World and World Showcase, which actually kinda makes more sense. But ultimately it came down to the agreements they had made with the CEO’s of the future world pavilions that forced them to stick with the entrance where it is.

Illuminations had a a special 30th Anniversary tag at the end. It wasn’t like the Christmas tag where there is talking guiding it, it was just a FABULOUS fireworks display. Rumor before was that it was supposed to be better then the 4th of July tag, which I’ve never seen. I have to say, it had some neat features with fireworks going across the water, but the finale was possibly the best fireworks finale I’ve seen and I’ve seen the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks from right in front of the barge which was impressive.