Live from the Polynesian. Well I am not at the Polynesian now but when I started to post this I was and I wrote my observations live with some details and photos added once I got home. Sometimes I feel different about things once I get home and time goes by but this report will let you know how I felt as it was happening.
So we got to Orlando after 7:00 PM and headed over to the Swan to check in. I have stayed at the Swan a few times and the Dolphin once. Both are owened by Starwood and not owned by Disney. We use our Starwood points from our Maui villa and we enjoy staying in most of Starwoods hotels. We have had positive and negative experiences at the Swan, this visit was not starting out well. We pulled up to the front of the Swan and three guys were standing at the valet area. No one else was outside at the time. Not one of them came over to see if we were checking in or neded valet. I started to unload the bags in front of them and still noting. We took the bags inside and went back out t park the car about a half mile from the entrance. Tara made a comment to someone inside and after we were all unloaded an checked in, an additional 3 guys standing around inside talking finally came over and asked us if we needed help. I just decided we were able to take our own bags.
We got a great view of the parking lot and 3 out of 3 times here still never had a room with a balcony, the window does not even open which has made it difficult to tell when it stops raining outside. Also now the Swan charges $10 a day for some bundled services. We asked if those services were not used would we still be charged and they said "yes". The $10 dollars is for 2 bottles of water (that half the time they do not replace in the room unless you call down), internet access, ue of the health club, 20 minutes of domestic long distance calling, and unlimited local calling. We did not need any of those services but since we are going to get charged anyway we decided to use the internet and drink the water when they remember to give it to us. So the rates at this hotel can be low but start adding ton the $10 a day fo that and the $10 a day to park. My other issue is the walk to the pool is farther then walking the whole Polynesian resort grounds. The drinks at the pool were $10 for a dispenser drink like a margarita or pina colada that were not very good. The walk from these resorts to Epcot is very long and takes 15 t 20 minutes and the boat is painfully slow besides being standing room only by the time it has come from the Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk to fill up first. Even with all that said it is a very nice resort but I have a problem with more and more things each time I stay here so it might be my last stay.
We went into Epcot and took Kai on Test Track for the first time. There are so many rides he can go on now. He is only 4 but he is 44 inches so he can go on almost everything. We headed into the Land o go on Soarin' and after we ate at the Land. Very good food. I was surprised with all the talk about recycling that they had no containers for me to put my bottle into at the food area.
We went over to see Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. Some news about the tank is that the room we used before for Tikifest 2007 is leaking and all other events were cancled so if we had done Tikifest in there like before we would have been moved. They are not sure what needs to be doneto fix the tank so this may be a problem we here about again.
The parks don't seem to crowded and so far we have not waited too long to get on things but we are trying to do as much as we can in the morning and then spend the hot afternoon at the pool and return to the park later at night.
It was a little hot but not too bad. We decided to go to the pool that after noon and return later. After the pool we ate at Kimono's, that is supposed to be the best sushi in Disney World. It was the best I have had outside of Maui. It started to rain and thunder louder then I have ever heard and that continued so we stayed in the room the rest of the night. We will get to bed early for an early morning the next day.
We decided to do Hollywood Studios before it opened. We found out Linda and family were in the park that day also. Len would be landing late and heading over. We went right to Toy Story to get a fast pass and the line to get fast passes was 20 minutes. We took Kai on what he calls the fast elevator. He was not too happy with his experience and won't be doing it again for a while. By the way for those of you who have only been on the Tower of Terror at Disneyland it is no where near as good a ride as the one in Disney World. We saw some shows and it was getting very hot. We did not have any reservations for the first few days but we went over to 50's Prime time and get the firt seating of the day. That is always a good meal and fun place to eat. We kept on missing Linda and Len as they ended up on the same rides right after we were. I took Kai on Tower of Terror....he was not liking that too much. It was getting vey hot so we headed to the pool.
We were going to meet Len in Epcot later but first we needed some food first. Tara called the dinning and there was nothing available for Mexico but Le Cellier had an opening. As we were waiting for the boat to Epcot it started to rain so we changed our minds and went to Fulton's Crab House at Downtown Disney. It was raining so hard that you could not see the road. We had a great dinner and the service was outstanding. My only problem was taking Kai to the bathroom a worker (looked like a cook) was in the bathroom and came out of a stall but did not even go to the sink to wash his hands. Not a good sign.
We came back and went over to Epcot for some beer in England and meet up with Len and family. We took Kai on Space, Spaceship Earth and back on Test Track (his new favorite). It was extra magic hours in Epcot so we got out of the park late. Kai loved Space also but it was a long day for him and he did not make it far on the LONG walk back to the Swan from Epcot.
Well one more day in the Swan and we are up early to go over to the Animal Kingdom. We headed right to the Safari while some of the animals were out. After going on a few rides including finding out Kai is not a fan of Dinosaur we ran into Aaron and Anna from Tikifest 2007. They are over at the new villas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and we are going to meet up with them on Sunday for dinner at Boma. We decided to give the new Yack and Yetti a try and I thought it was very good but expensive at $20 a plate for lunch in a park. Since we still had a week here we decided to head out and go over to Cocoa Beach to pick up the tikis. It started to storm again but it was clear by the time we got to Cocoa Beach. We checked out the gallery and watched the guys carving the tikis and then hung out wit Wayne for a while and talked tiki. Wayne has been doing tikis there for over 30 years and is one of the most well known carvers. He has been carving for so many places including Disney and he has such a great look and detail to his tikis. He spend some time with us and gave me a signed copy of an article about him in the tiki news. He also gave Kai a cool black coral shark. If you ever want to order a great tiki go visit his site at www.maitiki.com. After picking up the tikis we headed over to Ron Jons. It is a HUGE store with all the surf stuff you could want. I was excited to find some Lost shorts and a retro Hawaiian Island Creations shirt like I use to wear in High School. I was happy!!!
We drove back and got a call from Marilyn (retired Polynesian Concierge) to met up with her and her daughter Tara who use to work concierge also but now works DVC. They are staying in the new Bay Lake Towers tonight as a Cast Member preview. They have Cast Members in every room to check everything out and make sure it all works. I hope to get a peek at some point on this trip.
We met them at the Polynesian an decided to stay and have dinner at Kona Cafe. Dinner was great and I am looking forward to checking in the next day. The rest of the California group is getting on a plane to get here in the morning.
We got a late check out at the Swan and decided to enjoy the pool. The weather is improving and the forecast for this week is for drier air to come in around us. Today was no rain and not so hot. Just about perfect weather. The Robb's and gang were heading from California on a red eye with quite a crew. Besides Tara, Darby Kai and I, the California invasion included Sean, Becki, Nick, Megan, Randy, Jan, Shanna, Kyle, Ryan, Ed, Yoli, Bryanna, Dom, Gabe, Sara, Kayla and Hunter. They all arrived in the morning and headed right to the Polynesian.After hanging out at the Swan pool we loaded up and headed over to the Polynesian.
At the guard shack they gave us a piece of paper to help identify us as club level guests. I assume this is to help address the problem of the club level guests being misdirected at vale to check in at the lobby. Now you give the valet your slip to identify you and they get you ready to be taken over to Hawaii longhouse. I met Sara (concierge manager) at the valet booth. She was very welcoming and got Jim to bring us over to Hawaii longhouse. We got there and were checked in by Alexander who was very helpful and friendly as was everyone in the concierge desk area. David was also over in Hawaii that day so it was nice to see him. They took our paper passes and put them on our room key which is much nicer and less worry about getting them wet. We got to our room (1505) and we found that the bed had seen some action and it was broken off the base. We did not want to move rooms so we told them about it but I have no idea how they would fix it. You could move the whole bed off the base and it rocked around. Everything else in the room was fine and they even added new alarm clocks with Ipod docks in them. They work and sound good. If you have it plugged in you can wake up to your Ipod. It comes on quiet and gets louder and brighter slowly until you wake up.
We had gone to the pool and when I got back someone told me that there had been a golf cart next to our patio slider and about 5 guys in the room with parts and equipment working on the bed. They had replaced the whole thing while we were at the pool and you would never know they had been in there.
The rest of the group from California was checked in and at the pool so we went up stairs to see and talk to Chef Dick and then go to the pool. The pool and pool area were very crowded and I was told it would be less the next few days because a big convention was going on and many of them were hopping over to the Polynesian pool. We were going to going to ‘Ohana so we did not want to eat much but you could smell the pulled pork sandwiches and I had to have one. Also the pasta salad was so different and tasty that I wanted to eat it all but I only had a little. Everyone wanted to stay and eat that and drink the punch (gotta watch out for the punch).
We met Len at ‘Ohana and we all sat down to a nice dinner after a round of Lapu Lapus. Lipoa was entertaining us that evening and she found out it was Len’s birthday (don’t know how) and he got to be honorary limbo pole holder along with Sean. They got all dressed up and led the kids round the restaurant dancing. Once they got back around they held the pole for the limbo. The kids had a blast and we were all very full. It was a good evening. We had planned to have Matt round up some of the Tikifest people at the pool to surprise Len when we got out but his sisters were in the parks and Matt went missing so a few were still around when we came out and said Happy Birthday to Len and his daughter came over to the resort to give Len his surprise. It was a tiki I had carved up with his initials in the shape of the Van Halen symbol on its forehead. Tara got me som paints so I painted the symbol like Eddie's guitar. He was surprised and now he just needs to figure out how to get it home. As always it was a fun evening at ‘Ohana.
We all watched the fireworks and I ran into Duane at the Pool as well as Michele and Nicky. A few of the Tikifest guests were here and I keep finding them around the resort. The kids enjoyed the fireworks and the adults enjoyed the lounge.
So we got up early and went back over to Animal Kingdom park. There were a few things we still wanted to do there so we got there just at opening. It was not as hot today and so far no rain. We went to the Lion King show and Everest, then we met up with the rest of the group at Flametree BBQ. Before we took off we went on Kali River Rapids or as Kai calls it the raft ride.
Back at the Polynesian lots of people seemed to be checking in but the pool was not as crowded. Must be less pool hoppers today. We were back and forth from the lounge all day (since it is right there next to the pool) with free beer and snacks. Those cookies in the lounge are soooo good. I am starting to worry the lounge will run out of beer. I got to see my favorite bartender (Tim) and he made me a few of those awesome Mai Tais. I could really spend all day here. I noticed a lot of fun activities added to the day. They had Wii games out next to the pool and later had some tote bag decorating for the kids. The activities change all the so listing all the days and activities on the site would not be that helpful but I can tell you what is going on this week. Activities include:
Pool deck games
Tote bag decoration
Dodgeball on the beach
Hawaiian Pool party
Tiki mask decorating
And at night they have Campfire/ dance party and movies next to the wedding pavilion.
This weeks movies are Lilo and Stitch, Ratatouille, The Incredibles and Cars.
Just before I left to go get ready for dinner with Aaron, Kim and Anna, I saw Steve and Kelly at the bar. They ended up getting the room right next to us. Always good to have great neighbors. I also saw John, Debbie and Steve Kusiak at the entrane to Hawaii longhouse.
We went over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat at Boma and it was great as always but you can’t believe the line for food. It went around the inside of the restaurant. I always enjoy my time with the DelPrince’s. Aaron and I stay in touch and Kim and Anna are so much fun to be around. Maybe someday they will visit us in California and go to Disneyland.
The weather really has been perfect today and again no rain. We decided to pay for the internet connection so I can get stuff ready for the party and do this report then the family went over to enjoy extra magic hours at the Magic Kingdom and I am relaxing in the room writing this report. Time to go enjoy the lounge and fireworks.
Sean, Gabe, Ed and I got up early and went to play golf at Magnolia across the street from the Polynesian. We were the first on the course and the sun was not up yet but it was warm already. We sort of did not keep score and just did dots for first on the green, closest to the pin and first in the hole. I was leading for a while but Sean took over and it was down to Gabe and Sean at the last hole. I spoiled it for Gabe by getting it in the hole first but with my brain frying from the heat I thought I was spoiling it for Sean. Well it was a fun way to start off the day anyway.
Later that night we went to Hoop-de-doo Musical Review. It reminded me of the Golden Horseshoe Revue in Disneyland. The food was good and the entertainment was fun. It did rain hard on our way over in the boat and while waiting to get in but we were under cover. Becki got pulled up on stage and did a great job.
I needed to get back for the giveaway and the line for the boats were very long. We had to try for the boat to the Contemporary and then monorail from there. On my way past the marina at the Contemporary I was showing the kids the watercraft (jet ski) and we were considering doing it until I saw it was $85 for 30 minutes. NO THANKS!!
I got back to the Polynesian and met up with Lisa and Chris to get things ready for the Giveaway on the beach.
Last time we did the drawing at the party it went too fast and took up time so we decided to do a separate give away. I was hoping this would work better. The first problem was not everyone could be there that was attending the party but we decided we would still draw their names. Also it had been raining that evening but it stopped just before the give away. A few people showed up early to help out and we sort of gathered around my room. I still wish I had more time to just relax and talk with everyone but it was nice to meet some of the people I had emailed for a while. We had given out bracelets for the Tikifest people and we also made up name tags this year. The kids helped me hand these out.
Lou Mongello and his friend Glenn Whelan showed up with a bag of stuff for the give away including some copies of a new magazine called Celebrations. Everyone thought this was one of the best magazines they had seen. If you want to subscribe go to http://celebrationspress.com/. I finally got to meet Virginia Rother. We had emailed a few times and she was a local who wanted to attend Tikifest after hearing about Tikifest in 2007. Also Jason and Caitie Flum were there on their honeymoon and I had emailed Jason a few times before the trip. I wish we had run into each other again on the trip to talk more. I met Darren and Michelle Wittko for the first time. They seemed like a lot of fun and they were going to get to stay in the Bay Lake Towers that were opening that week. I hope to see them again. Darren has a cool site www.wdwanswerguide.com. Make sure you check it out.
The rest of the group seemed like family. They were from the first Tikifest group. Deb, John and Steve Kusiak were there and I did get to spend more time with them around the resort on that trip. I was trying to talk them into going to Maui. Michele, Nick, Lindsay and Nicky DeNofa showed up and won the Tikiroom sign. I hope they will let me come visit it. Next time I see them the kids will be bigger than me. My long time online friend Ann along with Tom and Claire were there. It is always great spending time with them. Duane, Jennifer and Tess Lingle are like long lost family to me. Duane and I keep in touch all the time. Wish I could go to Disney World as often as them. Someone I have been wanting to meet up with in WDW for years and he ends up being my neighbor at the resort was Steve Young and Kelly Collins came with him. I could not ask for better neighbors. We often could be found hanging out at the beach or at the bar getting Mai Tais from Tim the bartender. Aaron, Kim and Anna DelPrince came early to help me set up. Anna helped me during the drawing also and it ended up they went home with the Tiki. Some people that were not there won some of the shirts and other gifts. They would receive them at the party. Steve Young and Kelly won the lunch at the Wave with an Imagineer and an ex-imagineer. Some of the other gifts were some signed books and Hawaiian CDs signed by the Barefoot Warrior.
Again I wish it could have lasted longer and I could have spent more time with everyone but it was such a great group of people. Some hung around and watched the Electrical Water Pageant and the fireworks. Virginia was parked at the TTC and she was not sure how to get through the resort over to there so we I escorted her through and we had a nice chat. She would be returning for the party with her husband.
I tried to thank everyone who helped with Tikifest. Here is the list.
Lisa Wagner for making all this possible
Sean Robb and family for the room, lunch give away and putting up with me
Amanda Garcia for helping with the planning of the club level guests
Matt, Mike, Mike and Len for getting the word out on Tikifest
Lou Mongello for the Tikifest mention and the items for the giveaway
Cara Goldsbury for the signed book
Wayne at Mai Tiki for the tiki
Da Barefoot Warrior Bradda Ernest Pua’a for the signed CDs (see you in Maui 2010)
Lucas Ginn for helping with the planning
Matt Turk for creating the new web site and his support
All the Disney staff for organizing the Tikifest party and supplying the awesome room rates.
Thanks to all of those who came and especially those who were at the last Tikifest and still came back.
I also had to stop and mention something not so upbeat but I felt it had to be mentioned.
This year we have lost a lot of great friends and family members. One of those was Carla Sigelbaum’s Daughter Carly (9 years old) was killed in a car accident that also injured her husband. They attended Tikifest 2007
Let’s just remember that all of them are looking down at us and smiling when they see us enjoying life because they know it does not last forever.
I also had to mention that we were all going to try and meet up in Maui next July and Lisa even got some incredible rates on rooms at the Sheraton Maui on Ka’anapali beach. Hope to see you there.