Sunday, March 23, 2014

Trip Report: 2 Days at Disney World and Disney Dream Cruise (Disney World, Part 1, Pop Century :-))

     As you can read from my first entry, I spent some time at Disney at the end of February, 2014. Specifically I spent 7 total days with 3 nights at Disney World and 4 nights on a Disney Cruise. The recommendation is that if you go to both, do the park first so that you can relax on the cruise. That is good advice!!
   

     The room on the left of the bottom floor is where we stayed. This is the Pop Century Resort. It is a budget resort-basically a clean Motel 6 -"Disneyfied". The room was spartan, somewhat small with two full/queen beds, nice split bath with a separate tub/toilet combo. There is a table and chairs, t.v., small refrigerator and nice area for storage/closet for clothes. It's very clean and our room, in the 60's building, was directly in front of the Hippy Dippy Pool. This is great location near the main building which houses the restaurant, gift shop, bus stop and the reception for the hotel. My mom who walks just a bit slower with some feet issues, did fine in this location. There are several other buildings-much farther away that I cannot imagine even doing all that walking back and forth to the restaurant. The best part was the closeness to the main building, second the pool. There are alot of people at this place-groups, families, etc. But it seems that you can get food, swim, do all you need without much wait. It's a Disney budget stay at our average cost of $185 per night. I believe we were just right in a busy time on the cusp of a slow time at Disney. The time you select to go definitely affects your cost. I had advice of a 20% discount on this particular stay (offered directly by Disney) and we took advantage of that sale. After I researched the possible hotels at Disney, I used a travel agent "Fairytale Journeys by Sara" to actually narrow in my room selection. Sara is awesome. She is experienced at the nitty gritty. I found Sara just by looking at blogs, etc. 

    
      This picture of the pool was the view from our front door. Where you see "POP" is the main building. The restaurant in the main building consists of several stations of food as well as self serve areas for food and drink. Just like the park, there are several cashiers to check folks out. When you book a Disney resort hotel and have park tickets, you should receive information ahead of time about "Magic Bands". Magic Bands can be customized and sent ahead to your residence or you get them when you check in. I learned that ordering them ahead of time allows you to customize the colors of the bands. If you get them at the hotel, they are gray. Magic bands open your door and can be attached to your park tickets for entry, fast passing, etc. You can also attach a credit card and just touch a special unit at all retail outlets to pay for your gifts or food. Seems like a great idea and we really liked it. No cards hanging from your neck.
     The bus stops heading to all the different parks are out front of the main building. I do believe there are other bus stops at other buildings. Research that before you go! Our experience with the buses was really positive. Not a long wait either coming or going, clean and very easy to use. I debated on getting a rental car. Because we chose to use the buses, I can't really comment on the usefulness of a rental car but I hear that is a very convenient option, especially if you are going to different parks in one day or just in general needing to get places quicker. We did 2 parks, one each day. We also did not have any kids, just 3 adults. So different needs may call for different modes of transport. Also with regard to transport, Sara sent me our magic bus access passes to get from the airport to the resort. This is included in your price. It's very easy and at Orlando Airport, everyone knows where the Disney transportation hub is and there are lots of signs. It's a no brainer. Of course, even with my big folder of paperwork, I forgot those passes. I simply gave them my hotel registration info and received our tickets to ride. My experience at Disney is that there are always staff to help with any questions, getting extra copies of stuff and they are very nice. I think that is the basic reason people like Disney so much and keep coming back. Good service. 
     Final thoughts on Pop Century and staying at Disney: I am in no way an expert at the different Disney resort hotels (call or email Sara on that) however, in my research and talks with friends who truly are experts (having gone to the parks probably 20 times each) where you stay is very important. If you want to be on the Monorail in a more upscale resort-there is a plan for that. If you want to stay budget (is $185 a night budget?? I am still thinking on that) there are at least 4 different budget resorts. Book early, look for discounts on the budget places. They fill up!!! Personally, and I make a decent living working for the government but really don't have tons of extra cash, I might pick a more upscale place to stay next time. I guess if it's vacation, you really want to stay at a level that feels like a vacation. There is so much information on the different places that you can really get a good idea before you select.