We were up at 4:30 to be ready for a 6:00 am departure to the airport courtesy of our friend Susan. There was only a little bit of commuter traffic, so we were at Philly and through security in normal time. In fact, security only had 2-3 people in line in front of us 7:20 for terminals D & E. We like the new security set up.
We were 2nd and 3rd in line for Southwest's open seating boarding. That meant we had a reasonable chance at the Exit row. Unfortunately, Jim got pulled by TSA for random screening at the gate, but I boarded anyway. It's not kosher to save seats on Southwest but the flight attendant guarding the exit row and I chatted a few minutes until Jim came up.
Using Disney's Magical Express worked fairly well. We bypassed the counter check-in and were put right in line for the Magic Kingdom resorts (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and Contemporary). We boarded after 5 minutes, and kicked back after another 5 minutes. That was convenient enough for me. Unfortunately, the stops were also in that order which meant about 25 minutes between the first and last (our) stop. We should have hopped off at the Polynesian and taken the monorail to the Contemporary. It would have saved us a whopping 10 minutes!!
Check-in was smooth, and our room was ready. I had requested a higher floor in our category (Lake View). We got right at the center of the "C" that is Bay Lake Towers on the 12th floor. We are very happy. That the room was ready at 1:00, was a huge bonus!!
Bay Lake Tower is very nicely done (and I'll say more on that later). Of course (Janet), that assumes I finish the trip blog for this trip. ;) At any rate, we crossed over from the Contemporary to the Bay Lake Tower via the curvy pedestrian bridge and took the elevator to our floor.
The room (a studio) is certainly smaller than most DVC studios, but we like the look and design. At first, the plans for BLT left me cold, but I think this particular resort will be in my top 2-3 resorts.
By the way, for those who care about the things (and you Disney-ites know who you are), the beds have duvets instead of bedspreads! Unfortunately, the used older duvet from the previous guest was left on the chair by Mousekeeping. A quick call got rid of that pronto. I later discovered a half-finished bottle of Sprite in the fridge. Hmmm. Not a good sign. Other than that, the room is very clean and orderly, and the staff have been at their Disney best.
We unpacked our groceries and Owner's Locker (things we leave in a locker stored locally) and plotted our afternoon. Having been awake since 4:30 am and then walloped by the Florida heat and humidity, we decided on a leisurely afternoon. We were hungry and thought about cancelling dinner at The Wave restaurant at 5:30 in favor of a late lunch in the park. However, we decided not to and I'm glad. (Wave review coming up in another post).
We strolled over to the Magic Kingdom as the remnants of tropical storm/depression/hurricane Fred spit on us from above. We might as well have had snorkel gear. Hot and humid and we weren't ready for that! Anyway, we go the MK and picked up our Tables in Wonderland card (20% dining discount card for Annual Pass holders) and our tickets for Tuesday night's Halloween party and then went into the park.
I didn't have time to get my hair cut before coming, so we stopped off at the Main Street Barber Shop. Three kids and one adult were ahead of us, but the wait wasn't too bad. The 3:00 parade came by while we were waiting. I'm not impressed. I generally don't like the day parades (except for Animal Kingdom's) but the old Share a Dream Come True parade still holds a fond place in my heart. I'm not sure the changes since then have been real improvements. Unfortunately, during the parade, an older man with autism got over-stimulated by the people and parade music and lost control of himself. Management dealt with him kindly but they quickly removed him from the scene. Well, not quickly enough for a few people nearby, but hopefully he would have a better evening.
Overall, the crowds were very light after the parade, and the waits around 5-10 minutes. We kept our focus on Fantasyland, beginning with Buzz Lightyear. I scored 75,000+, Jim 20,000+. I had asked him if I should let him win in honor of our anniversary or give it my best. He told me to give it my best but that he would sulk on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority if he lost! Well, Jim doesn't sulk well. It only took minimal encouragement to get him back into a Disney mood.
Since Space Mountain is under refurb, we saw just how ugly the dome and building are on the inside with the houselights on as the TTA cars move through. It's amazing what darkness and black light can do to improve a scene!
As we exited the TTA, Jim made a bee-line for his favorite - Carousel of Progress. I suggested we might want to save that for Leslie or some of the others we'll meet up with, but he assured me it was a repeatable attraction. So, we had our tour of progress through the 20th century. Apparently we went from hope and possibility at the turn of the last century to burned turkey at the turn of the current century.
It was time to head back to the resort if we were to keep our 5:30 reservations so we meandered down Main Street and back to BLT. Our luggage had been delivered to the room during our absence (Disney transfers your luggage from the airport if you pre-tag it before departure and take their Magical Express bus service - all complimentary). We unpacked, changed, and went to dinner at the Wave - a restaurant in the Contemporary featuring alternative cuisine (basically, eco-friendly foods with a twist). It was good - I'll give a full review later.
Our server, Barbi, had been at Boma for a number of years before moving over to The Wave. She had been to South Africa for a month recently, so we spent a lot of time discussing SA travel strategies!
We started with crabcake appetizer's - which were huge and 100% crabmeat coated in panko breadcrumbs and grilled. Yummy. I mean, yummy.
For entrees, Jim had linguine with rock shrimp and little neck clams in a chunky tomato sauce. I had the bee filet with white bean mash and kale in a cabernet sauvignon reduction. Double yummy! I also ordered a side of warm fingerling potato salad. Couldn't pass up alternative potatoes.
I was uncertain whether to match the filet a Brampton Cab Sav from South Africa or a Ned & Henry's Shiraz from Hewitson winery in Australia that Barbi recommended. She brought out both and let me try. The cab sav was very old world and earthy. I just wasn't in the mood, but the shiraz was an excellent option and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dessert was complimentary for our anniversary. We shared a trio of cheesecake with raspberry coulis, coconut panacotta with passionfruit, and a chocolate and passionfruit mousse. We managed to share well and were amply full at the end.
Let me say this: The Wave is my number one favorite regular dining option at Disney now. Jiko is still my favorite Signature, but I think The Wave compares very favorably to the Signatures.
Dinner lasted about 2 hours, which put is in perfect timing to go to the Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Towers. The lounge offers an amazing 360 view of the area, but concentrating on the Magic Kingdom for fireworks viewing. Attendance is reserved to DVC Members who are Bay Lake Tower guests. Well, that was us - so we went up. Capacity was about 500, but only about 40 were in the lounge and another 30-40 on the balcony. Great views, music was well-piped, and we very much enjoyed Wishes that way. I'm sure will be back to take and share proper pictures (better camera and tripod. The iPhone just can't cut it in low light).
So, a great first Disney day comes to an end and we anticipate getting to Animal Kingdom at opening tomorrow and meeting up with friends Kim and Eric.