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Unread 11 Feb 20, 09:34 PM  
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Join Date: Sep 07
Silver Anniversary Trip, Day 6

Friday Jan 17th EPCOT

We were up quite early again today and after the normal tea got ourselves ready and had another breakfast from the Staybridges buffet. We were moving to Disney today, to Port Orleans French Quarter, but in a way were sad to be giving up on all of our space at the Staybridge. Since wed not really unpacked packing back up didnt take long and we were checked out by about 9:20. The drive over to Disney was simple enough and we were soon past the gate guard at our home for the next 9 nights.

Googles chosen route took us up World Drive and under the famous arch.

Initial impressions of the resort were good.

The lobby was nice and quiet.

We parked up in the spaces just outside and headed in. Wed already checked in online and declined housekeeping, but being British needed to collect our Magic Bands before we could get into the parks. True we could have used some old bands from previous trips, but the batteries in those had long since expired and so wouldnt have worked for any of the long-range stuff like the photos on Frozen.

There was a sizeable queue for reception that wasnt moving very much at all. There were plenty of staff working, but every single one of them had guests stood in front of them and a phone clamped to their ear. Now that most guests do everything online no one goes to the front desk with simple requests anymore Id guess. Disney need to give their front desk staff the training and authority to sort these issues for themselves, rather than having to phone some IT person or manager somewhere to sort it for them. In the 20 minutes we waited to be seen at lest 3 of the staff never moved at all, other than to apologise to the guest in front of them while listening to their phone.

The lady that helped up was nice enough and quickly headed out the back to collect our bands for us. We had paid out for the themed bands, an EPCOT one for me and a Mrs Bunny one for Julia. These were really nicely presented in some decent almost Apple style packaging. We didnt expect to have a room this early and were quite happy with the explanation that wed get a text or could look at MDE later to learn our room number.

I headed over to Bell Services to get a trolly and got a less than magical grumpy response from the lady behind that desk, there was no offer of help, just a simple wave and being told to take that one. Luggage collected from the car her assistant was a bit friendlier as she tagged the bags up, gave me the ticket and offered to have the bags brought to our room once we were back from the parks.

It was only as we headed out to the car once more that I realised we had not got a parking permit and so headed back inside once more. Somehow the lady that had initially seen us was free and walked straight over as she saw us re-join the queue. She explained that Disney no longer do paper parking passes and that everything is on your Magic Band now. I asked about Julias disabled badge and she confirmed that no we did not need to pay for resort parking, making a note on our account on her iPad.

The drive from French Quarter to EPCOT is very short and so I was soon presenting my Magic Band to the parking attendant, only to be told, Thats $25 please. I said no, my parking is on my band only for him to ask if I had an annual pass. When I said no he again said Thats $25.
No, Im a resort guest,
wheres your parking permit then?
You dont do paper passes, Ive just been told at check-in
Thats $25
No Im a resort guest, Ive already paid
He then asked for Julias band, only to then ask if she had an annual pass. He was getting quite aggressive by now and the person working the other side of the booth popped her head out to ask what the problem was. It was at this stage that he told her that our bands were blank, not assigned to any account. She then asked if we had annual passes or a parking permit! In the end she said we needed to pay them $25 and take the receipt to guest services to get a refund.

A less than magical experience behind us we got ourselves parked up in the disabled section and headed for the park entrance. Im sure you can guess how happy I was at the amazing customer service wed received so far.

At least the monorail cooperated this morning.

There was a large queue for security and having long ago learnt not to attempt to help Julia as that just attracts the suspicion of security and leads to lengthy secondary screening for me we split up with me going through the Guests Without Bags line. Here I made two mistakes, one I should have been clearer with Julia on where to meet after security and two I should have taken her band and the parking receipt from her to get in the line for Guest Services while she was searched.

I waited in the large Guest Services queue, but as Julia didnt appear had to let people past me as I got to the front. Several Cast Members asked if they could help, but I had to keep explaining I was waiting for my wife to clear security. In the end I walked back to security and not seeing Julia anywhere tried calling her. This was a great time for our phones to act up, but after several attempts of either not being able to hear one another or the call going to voicemail we actually spoke and I learnt Julia was actually in the park proper. How shed got in with an unassigned Magic Band was a mystery to me, but I thought Id try myself.

Sure enough Mickey turned blue and the gate guardian called a supervisor over. The supervisor asked for my email and without thinking I gave her the one I hadnt used for MDE. When she said they had no record of me I asked her to try my other address and she quickly found me and my tickets. She then handed me a plastic ticket and told me to use that to get in the parks in future. I was delighted to have paid $10 for a Magic Band I couldnt apparently use.

Julia was waiting for me just inside by now and as I walked over asked what the card was for? When shed been bounced off the gate they had asked for her email address as well and then linked her new band to the account there and then. I was less than impressed and in a fantastic holiday mood. We made our way around the construction walls and with just a little help from a passing Cast Member found the in-park Guest Services. This is still where it has always been, but with the ongoing construction the route to it is a lot less simple. There were only a couple of people waiting and we were soon seen by a lady who linked my band up to the account, checked Julias and checked all of our FastPasses, ADRs Photopass etc were still in place. She also gave us a $25 gift card to replace the $25 wed spent getting parked, explaining they have no ability to issues cash refunds! If I wasnt so sure my wife was going to spend far in excesses of $25 I might have made a fuss about that. There was no offer of anything to make up for the hours wed wasted or their mess up, not even a proper apology, an extra FastPass would have been nice, but I was just happy to be done with everything.

We both made a conscious effort to relax back into a holiday mood as we walked away from Guest Services and back into the park. A drink would have gone down well, but when we got to the new Starbucks the queue to the booth stretched away towards Canada, the actual Canada, not the World Showcase one.

Turning the other way toward our FastPass for Frozen I spied a massive crane across the lagoon. Later that day Disney put a video out of one of the new barges for the next fireworks show being delivered. They are obviously very heavy if they needed this monster to drop them in the water.

My arent you a strong one.

[I]Today was opening day of the festival. [I]

With the Festival of the Arts opening we were expecting the crowds, but as always the space of EPCOT was swallowing them up quite nicely. We did have a look at the food booths as we passed, but nothing grabbed our attention enough to justify the queues. We also glanced at the art booths, but to be honest they just made the place look like a cheap UK craft market to be honest. Im sure Disney could come up with something better than some old tents to put this amazing art in.

We had a few minutes to go before we could use our FP+ when we got to Norway and so took a look around the Stave Church. Somehow Julia had never been inside and so this gave us an interesting few minutes reading about Norse gods and legends. It was also nice and cool, unlike the unseasonably hot air outside.

Not a big building, but there is a lot of information inside.

One of the impressive carvings in the building supports.

By the time we were done reading everything inside our FP+ window was open and so we used it to bypass an 80minute standby line for Frozen. There was a bit or trepidation approaching the terminals, but happily Mickey turned green with a tap of our bands. Disney IT might still be a pain in the backside, but the core functionality has become a lot more stable over the years. Not so long ago it seemed a change in the wind could cause all your FastPasses to get deleted, now it can cope with some ticket and band changes and still keep everything as it should be.

Everyone happy again.

We should have just used our old bands, the Frozen picture never did show up in our accounts. We had some little kids behind us who were very excited to see their heroes for real. They were rather loud, but their excitement was lovely to hear. The way the characters turn to follow your progress now makes it even easier for the kids old and young to see them as real.

We had a poke around the shop where I should have brought a painting I saw. The artist was there and signing prints for people, but not knowing what else I might see the rest of the trip I left it. Sadly we never saw the guy again, nor his pictures. The next time we were in EPCOT his stand had gone from inside the Norway shop. I also saw a t-shirt that sadly was only available in child sizes, if it had been in adult size Id have gotten Edward one.

Julia didnt think it appropriate anyway.

Good of Disney to have a portrait of their IT director up I thought.

Julia did find a troll ornament she liked that took care of that $25 gift card, plus some cash.

We had a while before our next FP+ by design, enough time for us to graze a lunch from the various festival booths around World Showcase. I really needed a drink by now and so the first thing we got were drinks from the tea stand in China.

Tea anyone?

Julia just wanted a sprite while I had a lychee flavoured tea that was delicious. I was going to pay for Julias drink out of pocket until I saw that they were the larger $4.50 bottles and so spent our first two snack credits of the trip.

While Julia had been waiting for me, waiting for her, in our entrance debacle earlier shed picked up a festival guide and spotted what she wanted for lunch. I was happy to just read each menu as we passed. First on Julias list was the beef short rib from Germany.

This was excellent, I wished Id got two.

The view from our lunch spot wasnt bad either.

While Julia ate I had a quick look at Flight Radar to check on Sandra and Brians progress across the Atlantic. Wed spoken to them earlier in the day and knew theyd been delayed by a fault on their aircraft. When theyd checked in theyd seen there was a delay so Id asked Edward to investigate and he found their aircraft at Gatwick, but with a stand number of MAINT. It turned out the plane had needed an escape chute replacing and theyd taken off about 2 hours late.

Julia recommended the Beef Wellington from the American stand. I wasnt going to bother on seeing the size of the queue but she pointed out Id just get grumpy again if I didnt eat. While waiting in the queue the people around me were got talking and we learnt that the group due to go home to New Jersey the next day were already delayed with the snowstorm sweeping across the States. An older guy further up the queue was from the same town, but he didnt care about the storms as he wasnt going home until March 3rd! He and his wife had a camper parked up at Fort Wilderness until then, must be nice to be retired with money.

I was glad I waited for this, it was delicious.

Julia had found me an end of a bench to perch on and eat, once Id done so we moved on to Morocco where I got us the spicy beef via a much shorter queue. Im not sure where the spice was, but it was another tasty dish. Julia helped me out eating most of the pita chips with the hummus.

No spice, but the dried cherries were especially good.

The Moroccan band had drawn quite a crowd.

As we ate we realised we had never had a proper look around the Moroccan pavilion and decided to put that right. There is not much there other than the usual overpriced shops, but it is a very pretty pavilion and we did find the table service restaurant buried back there as well. Julia, who visited Morocco as a teenager told me it looks quite authentic, but the smell is not at all right and also missing are the old men trying to buy girls for many camels! Apparently, her dad had turned the offer down as he had no way of getting the camels back to England.

The tilling must have taken an age to do.

We found our first photographer without a huge queue of the trip.

This should be much busier and have the strong smell of spices in the air.

I had wanted to try see the new film in France on our way around, but time was getting on and we had both a FP+ for Spaceship Earth and a nap to get to so we carried on past France, only pausing to get another Photopass picture on the bridge to England.

We were glad of the shade, it was very warm by now.

We did look at the food stall in Canada as Julia liked the sound of the wild mushroom risotto, but when we didnt see the Snack Credit icon on their menu decided she wasnt hungry enough to bother. We continued on and made our appointment with Dame Judy at Spaceship Earth, where even in the early afternoon our FP+ got us past a lengthy queue. On the way in I took a picture of the newly painted Guardians of the Galaxy ride over the construction walls.

Not looking bad at all from this angle, Itll be better without the diggers.

Not having a US mobile we never did get the text about our room, but a quick look at MDE on the way out of EPCOT showed us in room 3247. Getting back to the resort our bands let us into the car park, once Id taken mine off to reach the reader from my normal sized car. We were in the block nearest the main building, but on the far side of it overlooking the car park. This was great for us as it meant very little noise from outside as the only people walking past would be from the room next door.

Mickey and an elephant were waiting in out window.

We did think Sandra and Brian would be through the connecting door, but it wasnt to be.

Plenty of hanging space, but no wardrobe.

We called Bell Services who quickly brought our bags up to the room, Julia then started unpacking while I walked back to the main building to buy some milk for us and another bottle for Brian.

The outside of our block, from the far side to our room.

The resort is laid out in squares and looks lovely.

The CM in the shop did offer to take two snack credits for the two small bottles of milk, but having already used 5 snacks today I thought it better to do a room charge for the few dollars. Obviously by the end of our stay I wished I used the snacks.

We got the room straight, the space under the beds was great for storing cases and had a bit of a nap. We did think about going back over to EPCOT, but Julia was wiped out and so we just took a walk to the food court to get our mugs and find out where the laundry was located (by the pool if youre interested). Julias band wouldnt open the laundry door, so we took another walk to the front desk where they reset it for her.

I was planning to eat with at Disney Springs with Sandra and Brian when they arrived, but Julia already knew shed not want to come with us and so picked up one of the kids meal peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the food court. The guy on the register asked twice if we were sure we wanted to use an adult QS credit for the kids meal, pointing out what poor value that was, but I assured him that it wouldnt be the last kids meal we brought this holiday.

Back at the room Julia relaxed and read while I wrote some more trip report until we got a message from Sandra at 6:15 to say theyd landed. I did think about driving out to the airport to get them, but figured the bus would probably have them on their way before I even got there. As it was they were not ready to head out to eat until quarter to 10, when we took the boat over to Disney Springs.

They had been allocated a room 3 down from us. There were only 8 rooms per side of the block and it later turned out the other 6 were all occupied by the same large family group. Why we had been given rooms splitting them up we couldnt work out. It would have made more sense to give us connecting rooms and then the other family connecting rooms as well surely?

It was on this boat trip that we first realised how lucky we were not to have water view rooms. The boats when approaching or leaving the dock or even just seeing one another on the waterway sound their horns, multiple times each.

Disney Springs was busy on a Friday night. Sandra and Brian were not bothered about what or where they ate, so I suggested the Polite Pig having read many good reviews.

Taken before I discovered my phone has a night mode.

We didnt quite know how the menu would work on the dining plan and were surprised to learn everything was included and we could have any of the beers as well as our drinks. This is an excellent use of a QS credit, my meal alone would have been $36 cash. Sandra and Brian ordered the sharing platter that had a bit of everything except the ribs, so I ordered the ribs with roasted sprouts as my side and we simply shared everything between us. They got a Caesar salad and spicy cauliflower as their sides, the cauliflower was very tasty.

The sprouts were amazingly good.

Just a snack, brisket, a chicken, pork shoulder and smoked cheese filled sausage.

By the time wed eaten the boats had stopped running for the night, at least they would have done by the time we walked around to the dock and so we instead walked to the bus station and got a bus back to our resort where we discovered the sound proofing between rooms is not great. In general it is ok, you dont hear people talking next door, but you do hear every toilet flush. The toilets are rather loud, like on a cruise ship they appear to be on a vacuum system and also give a little growl as they finish flushing. No matter, by this time of night the flushing symphony soon lulled me to sleep.

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Edited at 09:36 PM.
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Unread 12 Feb 20, 10:57 AM  
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Quite a few glitches but a nice time in Epcot :spin your Polite Pig meals looked good

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Unread 12 Feb 20, 12:25 PM  
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Originally Posted by mick View Post
Quite a few glitches but a nice time in Epcot :spin your Polite Pig meals looked good

Yes, once our Bands were sorted we had a good day.
We'd have happily returned to the Polite Pig, if only there weren't so many other great places to try.
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