This place has really gone downhill since we checked in! - A September 2019 Trip Report. COMPLETED 12/31

Verstehen

I break for the Nautilus
Joined
Jul 4, 2008
Hello friends! So glad you could come along for my report, whether you’re here on your own or because you followed from my pre-trip report. I’m Rachel, and I’ll be covering my annual Food and Wine trip with my dear old dad. This trip took place September 18-24, 2019, and covered six days of food and fun. We stayed at the Boardwalk Villas in a studio unit, and spent most of our time at Epcot, but were able to cover all four parks during our stay.



About Us



I’m Rachel. I’m 31, and I live in a neighborhood of Orlando, FL called College Park, which is about 30-40 minutes from property with typical traffic. As I mentioned in my pre-trip report, it’s a really awesome area, and I was so excited to see it covered in a recent episode of the DIS Unplugged. I’m not a native to Orlando or Florida. I moved to Florida in 2010, and my husband and I moved to Orlando in 2016. I’m an annual passholder, and most of my trips to property last just a few hours, either in the afternoons and evenings after work, or during a weekend day.

I work remotely doing marketing for a software company. My husband and I have a sweet dog baby, and we are expecting our first human child, a girl, in January. I was 22-23 weeks with her during our trip. My goal is to have this report wrapped up before her arrival, because at just about six weeks old, she’ll be doing her very first out-of-the-womb Disney trip, and I want to make sure I cover that as well!

My husband actually is not a Disney fan, so most of my Disney visits are either day visits with friends, or multi-day trips with my dad. He purchased DVC at the Polynesian in 2016, because he was looking for a way to have a vacation property that he didn’t have to maintain, and he wanted it to be somewhere that my younger sister would also enjoy. Now he comes down twice a year. Once in the fall with just him, and once in the winter with my sister.



A little about my dad: He lives in upstate NY, in the same house that I grew up in. He is a partially-retired dentist, and he spends his free time volunteering as a paramedic and firefighter for his local fire department. He’s not a fan of princesses or most “typical” Disney stuff, but he enjoys the parks, the food, and getting to chill in the hotels. He’s very active and can usually outpace me during his visits. Especially this trip, when I was waddling around with a few extra pounds!

We booked this trip before I found out I was pregnant, but once we knew, we were able to adjust. Obviously, for me, there was no alcohol on this trip, and I had to forgo certain foods, rides, and of course the hotel hot tub :sad: But I’m glad we decided to go ahead with it anyway. It was probably one of our best trips, in terms of pace and experiences. This trip marked my dad’s first time to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and we had a few new food experiences, and we also took good advantage of the Boardwalk’s amenities. Overall, I’m very glad we did this, and I’m glad I got to have some good father-daughter bonding time before the baby comes.

I’m excited to jump right in, but like with my pre-trip report, I’ll probably throw in interjections every once in awhile if anything interesting happens in real life that I think is worth posting about. I like sharing with readers a different side of the Orlando area, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading along!
 
  • Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Day 0 (Pre-Departure Day): Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    “You always get that color!”


    Like all good trip reports, we’ll start with the day before departure. I had already done most of my packing by this time, but of course there are always tasks that can’t be completed and things that can’t be packed up until this day or later.

    I worked until my usual time of about 5:30, and then went to get my nails done. I usually get a mani-pedi every four weeks or so. I get the gel on my hands so it lasts awhile. It’s a nice treat for myself, and I especially make sure to get one right before a special event like a Disney trip!


    Since my costume for the Halloween party was mostly green, I decided to go with a green nail color. The person doing my nails made a comment about how I always get that color, which I vehemently denied. I’m not that predictable, I told myself! I like variety.



    And then I saw the name of the color and realized, they were right. I have gotten that color. Many times (It’s one of those very unique color names. You don’t forget it). D’oh.

    Side note: I also got my hair done the Friday before. I loved how it came out! But I forgot that when at Disney I usually wear my hair up anyway, so I didn't get to show off the color too much. So I'll just show it off here!



    Anyway, I was happy with how my nails came out! Except I forgot to bring flip flops for my feet, and since I was just getting regular polish on there, I had to wear the flimsy foam shoes out and was told not to switch back to normal shoes for at least an hour.

    This made it awkward, as I next needed to get to the Publix across the street. I didn’t really have time to go home and wait around for my nails to dry. Oh well.

    So off to Publix I went, and shuffled through the aisles as best I could. I had a list of items for our trip, mostly breakfast stuff since we prefer to eat in the room over eating at restaurants. I also got a few things for my husband, so that I could be assured he wouldn’t starve to death while I was away.

    I picked up some PDQ for dinner (if you’ve never had it, it’s like Chick-Fil-A, except better) and drove myself home. My goal this evening was to finish packing as much as possible, get the house tidied up also as much as possible, and boil eggs. Not necessarily in that order. Oh, and hopefully have some time to chill out. Fingers crossed!

    I got a couple things done and ate my dinner before it got cold, but then my husband came home. He works for one of the local news stations as a videographer and is normally not home in the evenings as he works second shift. But on this particular night, he and the reporter he was partnered with had already filmed all their footage for the evening, and since we live close to the station, they decided to spend the rest of their shift writing and editing at our home.

    I can’t blame them, but I had stuff to do!

    Not that they prevented me from doing that, but I had counted on a distraction-free evening without two extra people. Still, I was able to get done what I needed to, and I can’t deny it was nice having DH over for some extra time than normal. I was able to get the eggs boiled, and finish tidying the living room and kitchen like I planned. I also packed as much as I possibly could, leaving things like toiletries for the morning.

    During this time, I also made lunch plans for the following day with my friend Ariel, who I hadn’t seen since she was a bridesmaid in my wedding almost four years ago! She lives in Washington state and was in town for Halloween Horror Nights. She’d just arrived that day and was only staying a couple of nights. Originally, I was hoping to see her during the time my dad would be in town, but since she didn’t have a car and dad and I had a pretty set schedule for the first couple of days (except for the evenings, which was also when she’d be at HHN), we determined that lunch the next day was the best time for us to get together.

    Normally, on the first day of a Disney trip, I’ll drive over to the hotel in the morning and start my workday from the lobby around 8 am, then move over to our room once it’s ready. It’s always seemed like the simplest option since it means I get to be at the hotel around when my family arrives, and I don’t have to interrupt my workday in the middle by driving over. The downside, of course, is that I have to get up extra early and sit in some traffic. I’d been prepared to do that this time, but now with Ariel and I having lunch at Universal, that no longer made sense. Universal is between my house and Disney, so I didn’t see the point in waking up super early to get to the Boardwalk, only to have to backtrack halfway back home in the middle of the day. So I decided I’d drive over at lunchtime, meet with Ariel, then head to the Boardwalk and finish up my work there.

    I had a meeting scheduled for 1 pm that I knew wouldn’t require me to be in front of the computer, so my plan was to take that call in the car on the way to Universal, finishing up in the parking lot if I had to, and then let Ariel know when things were wrapping up and I could meet.

    Eventually, DH got done with his shift and was officially home from work. We’d just finished up the original Veronica Mars TV show (which he had seen when it first aired, but it was new to me), and we spent the evening watching the first half of the movie. I went to bed around midnight, excited to be on the cusp of my first Disney day!
     
  • lvcourtneyy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 24, 2012
    The person doing my nails made a comment about how I always get that color, which I vehemently denied. I’m not that predictable, I told myself! I like variety.
    :rotfl: This is me all the time! I always think I'm getting a new color and then realize I choose the same ones all the time.

    picked up some PDQ for dinner (if you’ve never had it, it’s like Chick-Fil-A, except better)
    Oo I love Chick-Fil-A so that sounds great!
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    :rotfl: This is me all the time! I always think I'm getting a new color and then realize I choose the same ones all the time.



    Oo I love Chick-Fil-A so that sounds great!
    It's soooo yummy. I have lots of leftovers right now but now I want to go get food from there instead.
     
  • Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Day 1, Part 1: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

    All good Disney trips start with a stop at Universal, right?


    I set my alarm for 7 and woke up around 6:45. Normally, I am the kind of person who hits my snooze button until I’m cutting it dangerously close, but today for totally unknowable reasons 😉 I was excited to get out of bed. Even though I wasn’t going anywhere yet, I knew the earlier I got started on my workday, the earlier I’d be done and could start my fun.

    Normally I start work around 8:30 and go until 5:30 or 6. But on my Disney days I start at 8 and try my hardest to have everything finished up by 5. We’re heading into a busy period for me since our company is preparing for a big annual trade show so I knew it’d be tight, but that was all the more reason to get started early. I also wanted to leave extra wiggle room for the packing and prepwork I still had to do.

    Throwing a wrench into the day was the fact that some contractors for the utility company were coming by to do work on a telephone pole in our backyard. I’d known about this since they came by to tell us the week before, but since we’re renters our landlord wanted to be there as well to make sure they didn’t smash up the backyard. It also meant I had to put our dog in her crate since she’s able to bust out the backdoor, and will definitely do so if strange men are in her yard. The contractors and our landlord arrived pretty early, around 9, so I had to make sure I was presentable, the dog was away, and the yard was ready for them by then. DH was still sleeping although the backyard work definitely made that a challenge.

    In the middle of this I also carved out some time to clean my car. I am notoriously bad at keeping my car neat because I basically never clean it out (this will have to change once the baby arrives…) and I knew my dad would side-eye me if I didn’t at least make an effort to clean it. So I threw out as much trash as possible and made sure at least the front seat was clean.

    While this was going on, our lawn guy was also there, working on our front yard. He had another guy with him who scared the crap out of me to get my attention because I couldn’t hear him and didn’t see him coming up behind me with all the noise of the mower. He wanted to tell me our lawn guy ran over a garden snake. I was like, Well that sucks. Everyone okay? Oh yeah, everyone was fine except of course for the snake. He just wanted me to know. :confused3

    After I finished up with the car, I had the following text exchange with my dad, who was at the airport.



    I did some more work and at about 12:15 started prepping to go. I made a quick lunch for DH, knowing that if I didn’t feed him, he would probably not eat anything except junk from his work vending machine (sigh!). By now the telephone guys had finished up their work and had finally left. Then I packed up the car and got ready to call into the meeting. Only to find out at about 12:50 that it had been cancelled! I was a little annoyed because this meeting was something that really needed to happen, but thankful that I got to skip it at least for now (we did successfully have it the week I got back to work).

    I said goodbye to DH and our pupper and hit the road. I called Ariel to let her know about the cancelled meeting and my current ETA (about 20 minutes according to Google Maps, though with traffic and parking it ended up being closer to 30).

    I forgot that parking at Universal during the day costs an arm and a leg, and it looked like the hotels charge for parking too, so I decided to just suck it up and park in the garage. Pretty pricey just for lunch, but whatever. I made note of my spot and headed over towards City Walk.

    Security was fast and soon I made it to our lunch destination: Cowfish! It was Ariel’s pick, but I’d eaten here before and enjoyed it. No raw fish sushi for me of course, but there were plenty of cooked entrees to enjoy.

    It was so great to catch up with her! We’ve been friends since we met in grad school almost nine years ago. The first thing she said to me when she met me and found out I lived in Tampa was, “Do you know what I would do if I lived in Florida? I would go to Disney ALL the time.” Sadly she has not been able to make it over there since we met (but she’s a west coast girl and goes to Disneyland a fair amount) but hopefully one day! For now, we would enjoy the short time we had.



    It was so nice to have a good, air-conditioned lunch. Cowfish is a really adorable restaurant. Service was fast but not rushed. We shared the crab Rangoon dip for an appetizer, and we each got sushi rolls for our main dishes. I got a coconut shrimp tempura roll, and I believe Ariel got a spicy tuna roll.





    We had a good time chatting and eating and fantasizing about all the time we were going to spend together once we got unlimited money and time off. Any day now!

    After an hour or so, we said our goodbyes and headed out. I had to take a call from one of my bosses on my way to the car, but once I finished it I headed out.

    By now our room had been assigned and my dad had arrived. His flight got in around the time I got to Universal, but with getting off the plane and Magical Express he was just settling in as I was leaving for the Boardwalk. It took me about 20 minutes to drive there from the Universal parking garage.

    One thing I hate about the Boardwalk is the parking proximity to the main building, but I suppose I could have pulled up and gotten a cart. Still, there would have been no avoiding that walk. Oh well. I parked and grabbed my laptop bag and the bag of perishable groceries and headed to the room.

    We were in 5052, which is a studio on the top floor. Those of you who came from my pre-trip report may recall that I requested a room facing the Boardwalk. We had booked a water/garden view room, but according to Touringplans.com, there were a couple of studios that were on the Boardwalk side but far enough to the side that they qualified as water/garden view. I requested one of those but did not receive it. Instead, we were facing the pool, Swan, and Hollywood Studios.



    To be honest, I wasn’t too upset. I would love to stay in a Boardwalk view room one day, but I liked that we at least got the top floor and we were very close to an elevator. The first time I stayed at the Boardwalk I was in a studio almost as far away from the lobby as you could get. So this was definitely an improvement. We’re one of those families that actually spends a decent amount of time on the balcony, so having a nice view is something we like. At the same time, we like our privacy as well, so I was glad there was a tree sort of blocking us in, but not so much that we couldn’t see anything.

    Before I arrived and spread my stuff everywhere, my dad had the foresight to take some pics of the room. Overall, we enjoyed staying here, but agreed for trips when we bring my sister, it would have been a tight fit. The Polynesian studios are just way roomier. Would have also been difficult to get a Pack n’ Play in here with all our other stuff, if we’d stayed here after my daughter is born.







    Another complaint we had was the lack of outlets. At the Polynesian, we’re used to USB and regular ports pretty much everywhere, including on both sides of the bed. Here, there were just a couple in between the bed and couch, and none on the other side of the bed. So we had to be judicious about sharing and considering how many devices the average person has, it was a challenge for sure.

    When I arrived, my dad was on the phone dealing with some work stuff of his own, so I settled in to finish up my day. Mostly I was just making sure that everything was set to run smoothly and there would be no hiccups until I got back (as much as I could guarantee that). It was a pretty quiet start to my vacation, and I was able to get everything done by 5 pm as I’d hoped.

    Once that was done, I closed my laptop, and Dad and I declared our vacation had officially begun!

    Up next…what would we do first?
     

    SimplyGoofy

    "You are not Mickey Mouse... you are a rat!"
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2011
    I'm joining in! It sounds like you're in for a really fun trip with your dad!

    Your lunch at Cowfish sounded delicious! Thank goodness for cooked sushi rolls. I avoided sushi places while pregnant as I knew I'd be sad about the food restrictions, but it's nice to know there are still great options available.

    Despite its smaller footprint and lack of good outlets, I think the proximity to Epcot and the food and wine booths will make up for it!
     

    rdkeim

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2006
    What a good feeling when it's officially vacation time! I'd love to stay at either Boardwalk, Yacht or Beach one of these days. Love the location! So nice for you and your Dad to have the quality time together. I'll be watching for updates!
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    I'm joining in! It sounds like you're in for a really fun trip with your dad!

    Your lunch at Cowfish sounded delicious! Thank goodness for cooked sushi rolls. I avoided sushi places while pregnant as I knew I'd be sad about the food restrictions, but it's nice to know there are still great options available.

    Despite its smaller footprint and lack of good outlets, I think the proximity to Epcot and the food and wine booths will make up for it!
    Yes, thank goodness for cooked rolls! Although I have been craving ahi tuna sooooo much. Looking forward to eating it again.

    Ultimately we loved the Boardwalk but agreed it works much better for these trips with just the two of us.

    Joining in and can't wait for the adventures to start!
    Following along. Looking forward to reading more.
    What a good feeling when it's officially vacation time! I'd love to stay at either Boardwalk, Yacht or Beach one of these days. Love the location! So nice for you and your Dad to have the quality time together. I'll be watching for updates!
    Thank you friends!
     

    Verstehen

    I break for the Nautilus
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2008
    Day 1, Part 2

    “You want me to do what with the mayo packets?”



    Hope you're all looking forward to the weekend! I know I am. In about an hour I'm actually heading over to Disney Springs for dinner! Anyway, onto the next chapter. This one is light on images, but heavy on hilarity!

    The first ADR of our trip was scheduled for 7 pm, but it was only about 5. We decided to explore the resort and surrounding areas a little bit before we headed over to Disney Springs.

    First order of business was to find the gym. My dad always needs to know where the gym is. Even though – spoiler alert – on this trip he didn’t work out once. I guess he felt all the walking and swimming was enough! But we ended up going to the gym a lot, but not because of the workout equipment.

    The gym turned out to be conveniently located right by the elevators on the first floor, and we routinely went there several times a day to refill out water bottles and refresh ourselves with the scented cold towels. This picture was taken a few days into our trip, and the scents changed every couple of days. There was eucalyptus, grapefruit, and tea tree oil. Really felt good after a few hours of walking around a hot theme park!



    Next up was to visit the DVC model villa. When we purchased back in 2016, we got 160 points at the Polynesian. At the time, we thought it would be enough, but now that we have a better idea of our vacation habits, we realize we need more points. We’d been considering resale, but hadn’t found any contracts on the resale market that we liked, plus my dad was really loving the look of Riviera. So we went to the DVC model and booked a tour of the Riviera model for the next day at 2 pm. We told the rep we’d be at Epcot during that time, so she arranged for a van to pick us up at the entrance to the park.

    From the model villa we walked towards the Yacht and Beach Club. We’ve walked by this area several times together, but my dad always asks, “We’ve never been here before, right?” Haha. We admired the resort a bit and then he spotted a little condiment area outside of Hurricane Hanna’s, and swiftly snatched up a handful of mayonnaise packets.

    Yep. Mayonnaise.

    Remember those eggs he had me hard boil the night before? Well you can’t have hard boiled eggs without mayo, at least not in our family!

    He asked me to put them in my purse, and I protested, not feeling like I wanted to lug a bunch of mayo packets in my purse. But he argued that they would get too hot in his pockets. So into my purse they went.

    We kept walking around Crescent Lake and Dad expressed that he needed a caffeine boost. So we stopped at the Boardwalk Bakery for an iced coffee. There he proceeded to ask the poor cashier more questions than could be considered reasonable. Did they have iced coffee? What was the brand? How dark was the roast? Was it cold brewed? Did they have liquid sweetener or just sugar packets? Many of his questions could also be answered by looking at the iced coffee contained just a few feet behind the cashier, which I tried to tell him several times.

    Let me tell you, I love my dad, but between this and the mayo packets, I was already starting to wonder how much of a hassle it would be to sleep at home every night. He wasn’t rude to the cashier at all, but he’s so particular about coffee and doesn’t realize how his particularities come across to other people. That, or he just doesn’t care.

    But we got the coffee, which he deemed to be adequate, and started walking back to the room. We had just enough time to quickly freshen up and catch a bus to Disney Springs. But we walked a few feet, and he asked me a question.

    “How many times do we have to go to Epcot to get those coasters?”

    “Four,” I said.

    “Four times or four days?”

    “Four days.”

    “So we can’t go in multiple times a day and have that count?”

    “Nope,” I said.

    “Do we have four days at Epcot planned?”

    “Uhhh…I think so.”

    “Does it matter how long we stay?”

    “I can’t imagine it does.”

    “Hmm.” He thought about this for a moment. “How far is it to Epcot?”

    “Just right around the corner.”

    “We should go.”

    “Right now?”

    “Yeah! Why not?”

    Why not indeed. Theoretically, I had no reservations. We’d get those dang coasters one day earlier. But we were already cutting it close to get to our dinner reservations, and besides that, I was not sure about the optics of literally walking into Epcot and then walking right out.

    “Won’t that look weird?” I asked.

    He shrugged. “Who cares?”

    Can’t argue with that logic. “We’d have to do it quickly, so we don’t miss dinner.”

    He nodded, and I realized, I’d created a monster. Now he took that statement as a personal challenge. “We can do it. Just follow my lead.”

    So we turned around and made our way to the International Gateway, for our first park stop of the trip.

    As we started to cross the bridge, I took the mayo packets out of my purse. “Put these in your pockets, please.”

    “Why?” he asked.

    “Because they’re going to search my bag and I don’t want them to see a bunch of mayonnaise packets in there.”

    “Why, is that not allowed?”

    “No, I just don’t want to stand out in their minds as the girl who walked into Epcot with a bunch of mayo in her purse.”

    He reluctantly took the packets, making me promise that I would take them back after. He was very, very concerned about their survival rate in his pockets vs. my purse. But when he saw my anxiety about the whole plan in general, he told me to just follow him, because he knew exactly how this should go.

    We went through security at International Gateway, and then through the tapstile. From there, I expected we would linger, maybe pretend like we were going to browse the shops. But nope. I followed him, as he requested, and we turned right back around after tapping our bands in and went to the exit.

    Yep. That was his whole plan.

    It was indeed fast, but not fast enough. By now it was close to 6:30, and I had my doubts we could get to Disney Springs in time by bus. So we went back to the room, dropped off the mayo, did whatever freshening up we had to do, and went to the car.

    After listening to his disapproving grunts about how clean my car was (not clean enough), we set out of the parking lot.

    And promptly drove right up to the lobby entrance, because he forgot something in the room.

    For the life of me, I can no longer remember what, and neither can he. But whatever it was, it was important enough that he couldn’t be without it for just a couple of hours at Disney Springs. His wallet maybe? Who knows. The point is, he needed to go up to the room and we were already running late. And knowing my dad, I had my doubts that he would remember the room number. He asked me what it was as he was getting out of the car.

    So I waited for him.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    At some point I texted him, “DID YOU GET LOST???”

    At another point shortly thereafter, a cast member asked me to pull forward into one of the service vehicle parking spots while I waited for him, which I understood but it only added to my anxiety. It had also started raining.

    A couple of minutes later, he called me.

    “What room number?”

    I rolled my eyes. “5052.”

    “Oh, I thought it was 5250.”

    “How could you possibly think that? I texted it to you earlier and you have your phone.” (Note: I’m aware that at various points it probably sounds like I’m being needlessly mean to my dad, and I am. But that’s just how I show him love, and he knows this. I think.)

    “I know but I got confused. Oh boy, I really went in the wrong direction. Are they going to cancel our reservation?”

    “No, but they made me pull the car forward so I’m getting antsy just sitting here.”

    “Well, sorry I got lost. Do you have an umbrella?”

    “Yeah, one in the car, but I don’t think we’ll really—”

    And then the car door opened.

    And my dad stepped inside with a big, you-know-what-eating grin on his face.

    My dad loves dad jokes. He loves laughing at his own jokes and thinks he’s pretty much the funniest guy in the world.

    But I have to admit this was the funniest thing he’d ever done.

    He now had whatever it was he’d forgotten (again, I still can’t recall), and we were on our way to dinner.

    Up next: Disney Springs!
     

    jrmint427

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 19, 2013
    This picture was taken a few days into our trip, and the scents changed every couple of days. There was eucalyptus, grapefruit, and tea tree oil. Really felt good after a few hours of walking around a hot theme park!
    I never would have thought to check the gym for scented towels but that does sound wonderful after a hot day at the parks!

    “No, I just don’t want to stand out in their minds as the girl who walked into Epcot with a bunch of mayo in her purse.”
    I would have been thinking the same thing!

    And my dad stepped inside with a big, you-know-what-eating grin on his face.
    This is hilarious!!
     

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