Disney Trip Report Part 9: Summary & Reviews

You can also see our report as a single page.

Summary

At the Caribbean Beach ResortAll in all it was a great trip. I think we had a very good balance of “go-time” and time to relax. Did we see everything there was to see? No, but we saw all of our “must-dos”. We ended up sticking to our planned (rough) itinerary pretty well. (A lot of this was forced by our dining reservations.) We had planned to stay at the hotel Thursday morning and do Hollywood Studios Friday morning, but reversing this worked nicely. (We figured aside from Tower of Terror and Playhouse Disney, whatever we did at HS that morning was a bonus.) I also think it was a great plan to avoid any early morning dining reservations. Most mornings we could sleep in and Kyle could get going in his own time. This also helped on the days we ended up skipping naps, which turned out to be most of them.

The time of year was pretty good too. The weather was great. (It only rained twice — once while we were eating dinner and once while were on the bus, so not affecting us at all.) It got a bit warm by the end of the week, but not oppressively so (into upper 80s). The crowds were very light until the weekend. Waits were generally only 20-30 mins for most rides aside from Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania. (Each of which were generally an hour, and we could have gotten FastPasses for TSM even late in the afternoon.)

Hotel

We liked Caribbean Beach Resort. We stayed there as we knew Kyle would love having the beach to play on, which he did. One of the play structures on our beach, the one with the slide, was closed off, so that was a bit of a disappointment. The rooms had just been renovated in the last year or so, which was nice. The pool, redone in the last few months, was great, especially the play area for little kids and the zero-entry section of the big pool. The distance to Old Port Royale (pool & food court) wasn’t too bad, maybe five minutes, but we were in one of the closest, non-preferred buildings. The bus transportation was acceptable, but we only had a full bus twice. (Most times it was practically empty.) I think most rides to/from the parks were 30-40 mins all told (between waiting for the bus and the actual ride.) It probably wasn’t worth the extra $150 it would have cost to have a car for the whole week.

Dining

Inside Tusker HouseDining Plan: Based on my calculations, we saved over $300 using the dining plan. (It was free, but you had to pay full price for the room. In the end, it cost about $70/day total for all three of us.) Of course, we likely wouldn’t have eaten as much, especially not desserts at the counter services restaurants nor would we have spent so much on snacks the last day. We also got a bonus with the Fantamsic package at Mama Melrose’s on Tuesday night which included free appetizers (a $19 extra). However, it was nice to not worry about how much we were spending at dinner and whether or not we should splurge for the $28 steak or stick to the $20 pasta. The other downside is that you want to make sure to use up your credits, especially the table service ones. This requires advanced planning for reservations, including which park you’ll be visiting, a long time in advance. (You can now make reservations 180-days before your trip and many of the hot places will be booked this far out.) If it was “free”, I’d do it again. If we had to pay full price (around $100/day), I’d have to think about it.

Restaurant quick reviews

Biergarten (Epcot; Germany; lunch): Excellent and reasonably authentic food. The salmon in dill sauce and the roast pork were especially good. The sauerkraut was very mild, as it is in Germany. The rotkohl (red cabbage) was also good and served warm.

Pecos Bill (MK; dinner): Our least favorite meal of the trip. It wasn’t bad, just average. We both got bacon double cheeseburgers. I had planned to get the taco salad, but changed my mind at the last minute. I should have stuck with what I had planned on.

Sunshine Seasons (Epcot; The Land; lunch): Very good counter service. I had the roast chicken which was very good and moist. Suzanne had the pork chop, which was a bit dry. Kyle had lo mein which he liked. The desserts were especially good.

Mama Melrose’s (HS; dinner): Lucked out on being offered the Fantasmic package when we arrived. Overall food was excellent. We had calamari and bruschetta for appetizers. Suzanne had the steak which was good. I had the shrimp pipette pasta, which was good but quite heavy. The tiramisu was excellent and quite light. We also had the truffle cake.

Flame Tree BBQ (AK; lunch): Very good food. Suzanne had the chicken and I had the ribs. I thought the chicken was better. Kyle wasn’t impressed with his hot dog, but he’s very particular about the taste. (It was fine, just different.) The key lime pie was excellent.

Tutto Italia (Epcot; Italy; dinner): Excellent dinner. I had lasagna and Suzanne had veal tortelli. Both were delicious. Even Kyle’s mozzarella sticks were good. The desserts (chocolate-hazelnut torte and berry & gelato sundae) were wonderful. The bread was also very good. (I did miss the Fettuccine Alfredo from when it was Alfredo’s.)

Old Port Royale (CBR; breakfast): I had an omelet with spinach and chorizo which was good. Suzanne had a Mickey waffle which was as expected. The chocolate croissant Kyle didn’t end up eating was good even the next day when I ate it. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here, but it was perfectly fine as a hotel food court.

Crystal Palace (MK; dinner; character meal): The food and service was excellent. One of the best meals of the trip. The roast sirloin was very good, though I found the pork a bit dry. The desserts were also good. The character interaction was very good. It took an hour and 15 minutes from first to last, which was just about the right time. (We saw a couple twice.) Not a place for a quiet dinner.

Yak & Yeti Counter Service (Anandupur Local Food Cafes) (AK; lunch): The best CS of the trip. I had Kung Pao beef and Suzanne had the shrimp lo mein. Frozen lemonades for dessert were great.

Tusker House (AK; dinner): One of the best meals of the trip. I especially liked the “exotic” offerings, though I have had better samosas. Restaurant felt “empty”, but it was a couple of hours after normal closing time on an EMH night.

Columbia Harbor House (MK; lunch): Good food. Wanted something other than Pecos Bill. I had shrimp (10 good size ones) and Suzanne had fish. Kyle liked the Mac ‘N’ Cheese (which we had brought to Pecos Bill on Mon night).

Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary; dinner; character meal): Food was pretty good. The bowl of plain ravioli they brought for us was a nice touch. Kyle especially liked the make your own sundaes. Character interaction was great. Saw all in 45 minutes and saw a couple twice.

Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot; UK; lunch): Decent fish, excellent fries. Skimpy dessert (package of Walker’s shortbread cookies).

Lotus Blossom Cafe (Epcot; China; lunch): Decent shrimp fried rice. Caramel ginger ice cream was tasty, but not Kyle’s thing.

Boulangerie Patisserie (Epcot; France; snack): Apple tart was very good, but Pithvier was superb. (Ended up eating half of each as breakfast before heading to Boston Mon morning.)

Attraction Checklist

Magic Kingdom: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain RR (Paul), Haunted Mansion (Paul), Ariel’s Grotto, Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pooh’s Playful Spot, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, Tomorrowland Transit Authority

Epcot: Innoventions, Journey into Imagination, Mission: Space (Paul), Spaceship Earth, Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, Listen to the Land, Soarin’, Mexico’s Gran Fiesta Tour, Norway’s Maelstrom

Hollywood Studios: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Paul), Tower of Terror (Paul), Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground, Playhouse Disney Live!

Animal Kingdom: Discovery Island Trails, Festival of the Lion King, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Expedition Everest (Paul), The Boneyard, Primeval Whirl (Paul), Triceratop Spin (Suzanne & Kyle)

Links to photos

Animal Kingdom
Epcot
Hollywood Studios
Magic Kingdom
Caribbean Beach Resort & few other places

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